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Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, France wine regionBordeaux, one of the most famous wine regions in the world, is acclaimed for its terroir, which plays a vital role in wine production. Bordeaux is defined by three rivers, The Dordogne and Gironde rivers which converge to form the Garonne river before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. These rivers form natural boundaries that create the Left Bank, Right Bank, Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers areas. Each area is home to many sub-regions, each with their own unique terroir and Appellation d'origine contrôlé laws that control vineyard practices and winemaking methods.

The Left Bank is bordered by a large forest that helps temper the maritime climate from the river and Atlantic Ocean. Starting at the mouth of the Gironde River, the region extends south and includes Médoc, St-Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien and Margaux. The clay soils washed inland by the Gironde River play a large role in the winemaking methods. The heavier clay composites in the northern regions are slow draining and often produce wines with higher acidity. While Cabernet Sauvignon is more predominant on the Left Bank, Merlot is widely planted in the northern sub-regions. Further south, the soils are comprised of gravel and offer excellent drainage, ideal Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Weather also plays a large roll, with the warming influence from the waters of the Gironde estuary aid in the ripening of the grapes.

The Right Bank begins at the mouth of the Gironde River and extends inland along the right bank of the Dordogne River. While the area includes the CĂ´tes-de-Bourg, Blayais-Bourgeais and Bourg and Blaye regions, the term Right Bank often refers to the Pomerol and St-Emilion. The northern areas of the Right Bank are planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec vineyards that utilize the gravel, alluvium, clay and limestone soils in the area. Further south, along the right bank of the Dordogne River is the Pomerol and Saint-Émilion sub-regions. Pomerol's well draining gravel-based soils are ideally suited for developing Merlot wines with low tannins that can be enjoyed much younger than other Bordeaux wines. Saint-Émilion is comprised of more clay-based soils and a cooler climate that produces Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines with aging potential.

Graves, south of the Left Bank, is bordered on the north by the Garonne River and includes the sub-regions of Pessac-Léognan, Sauternes and Barsac. This area is known for its gravelly, well draining soils that contain white quartz deposits left over from glaciers during the Ice Age. The northern area of Graves features rolling hills made of gravel and sediment soils that are planted with Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon vineyards. The southern sub-regions of Graves benefit from the cooling mists of the Ciron River, which aid in crafting dessert wines. Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle are the most widely planted varietals.

The Entre-deux-mers lies between the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers, giving the area its name, which literally means "between two seas". This area is one of the largest in the Bordeaux region and produces most of the wine labeled as Bordeaux AOC and Bordeaux Supérieur.

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