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  • In southwest France the marriage of wine  and culture is a tradition centuries old.

  • Bordeaux with its harmony of history and terroir  has come to exemplify the majesty of fine wine.

  • In the World of Wine, Bordeaux is one of the  most recognized and treasured.

  • Collectors are happy to pay hundreds of dollars a bottle for  top wines, like Château Margaux, to get them into their collection.

  • But what's often overlooked  with all the fame and glory these wines attain

  • is that they really only represent five  percent of the total Bordeaux Market.

  • Bordeaux produces a wide range of winesto put things into perspective, there's as  

  • much wine produced in the Region of Bordeaux  as in many entire New World Wine countries.

  • The region has over 13000 growers, 9000  Châteaus, and 57 different Appellations.  

  • In this episode we're going to travel through  Bordeaux and discover all that it has to offer.

  • The 18th century city of Bordeaux is a thriving  Metropolis at the heart of the Bordeaux Region,  

  • built on trade the city is France's Southwest  Port with commercial links across the globe.

  • The city is an undiscovered pleasure of  French culture and charm, although sometimes  

  • overshadowed in terms of tourism, the slower  pace contributes to the bordelaise ability  

  • to appreciate food and fine wine. Even today  Bordeaux remains the capital of the Wine World.

  • The Garonne River, the region's main thoroughfareflows in and out with the rising tide

  • making the city built on its shores a natural port.

  • By the 17th century, merchants of various nationalities began establishing firms on the bank of the Garonne  

  • to act asgociants, or agents between the wine  producers of Bordeaux and the world marketplace.  

  • So that today the people at large celebrate  the pride of Bordeaux.

  • "The core reason why people are interested in what we are doing is  just because it's terribly good to drink, so it's  

  • it's a great wine, gives a pleasure. You look  at it, you smell, you swallow and you feel better"  

  • "I think when you think about wine, European winethe first thing you think about is Bordeaux.  

  • Bordeaux is the center of the Wine World".

  • Bordeaux's prominence, as a Wine Region todaycan be traced back to one famous document.

  • In 1855 Emperor Napoleon III wanted to showcase  the finest wines of the country at the Paris exposition,

  • so he challenged recognized brokers of the day and had them develop a list, ranking the Châteaus of Bordeaux.

  • And this is the list. It's known as the Official Classification of 1855.

  • Many of the great names then  are great names now.

  • Latour

  • Margaux

  • Lafite

  • Haut-Brion

  • Rothschild

  • Here was the origin of the concept of  fine wine. Wine sold by the bottle with a sense of place and history included.

  • Other classifications followed and expanded throughout Bordeaux.

  • "Bordeaux is certainly not just expensive wineshowever those expensive wines are the symbol of  

  • Bordeaux and, as the French would say, the locomotif. They're what drive the industry here"  

  • But we're here to discover and demystify  the broad elements of all Bordeaux wine.

  • The center of the Wine World became such because  it produces wines for every lifestyle and every  

  • budget, even today the styles of Bordeaux  wines have and are evolving, do as much to  

  • the competition from the new world producers as  to the differing taste of an expanding marketplace.  

  • With thousands of Châteaus producing  wines, each distinct to its terroir,  

  • the vast array is perhaps the most dizzying aspect  of the industry. How do we make sense of it all?

  • Well, the first step is geographic.

  • Bordeaux, with 100 000 hectares under vine, is France's largest quality wine region located on the Southwest Coast.

  • The main waterway is the Gironde estuary

  • with its two tributaries, the Dordogne and the Garonne, which served to divide the region into three distinct zones:

  • the Left Bank, Entre-Deux-Mers and the Right Bank.

  • Each and every bottle of Bordeaux is made under the Appellation d'origine contrôlée or AOC regulations.

  • The label indicates geographically where the grapes  have been harvested and, in the case of a Château,  

  • where the wine was made. All of which contribute  to the concept of what the French call 'terroir'. 

  • "The whole ethos of Bordeaux is based on terroirTerroir means not only the ground in which  

  • the grapes are grown but also the atmosphere, the  weather around and drainage, it takes into account  

  • all kinds of aspects about how that grape was grown".

  • "The main thing to remember about Bordeaux wines, both red and white,

  • is that they areblend and that thereafter, they are a blend of really principally three red grape varieties,

  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc,

  • in various combinations depending on where you are  in Bordeaux. Andmillon and Sauvignon for the white".

  • The most readily affordable wines of Bordeaux come  from grapes harvested from all areas of the region,  

  • this is usually the product of a négociant, who is  involved in the entire wine making process, from  

  • the purchase of the grapes, to the final blending  and aging of the finished wines.

  • "Making a blend is just trying to bring to the consumer the most  complex and harmonious wine you can you can make

  • Paz Espejo is a winemaker for the  Négociant Calvet, in business since 1818.  

  • In response to increasing competition from New  World Wines, Calvet like others in Bordeaux, has been revitalizing itself.

  • "I don't think we have to copy,

  • because the interest people have always had in Bordeaux is because  there was a special personality. I think we don't have to lose this personality

  • because we will never make the same kind of wines at the New World, we're not in Australia, we're not in Chile, we are in Bordeaux

  • and we have to understand what Bordeaux is and try to improve the quality as much as we can". 

  • The basic grape varieties used for the blending  of Bordeaux red wines are Cabernet Sauvignon and  

  • Merlot with Cabernet Franc and, to a lesser extentMalbec and Petit Verdot, to round off particular styles.

  • "Cabernet Sauvignon brings acidity, tanninsso structure, spiciness, aging capacity.

  • Merlot, for example, brings fruitiness, the floral sidethe violet, the rose petal.

  • So both seems to be, logically, a good complement, a good balance. And Cabernet Franc brings more or less between both,

  • it is spicy but at the same time it brings aciditySo it is fresh and brings aging capacity too".

  • "The winemaker can actually adjust the quantities  of these different grapes in different years.  

  • So if one year the Merlot doesn't  ripen as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon,  

  • he'll put more Cabernet Sauvignon in, so it's really a winemaker's wine"

  • "What I want is,

  • Vintage after Vintage, to bring to the consumer  the best expression, the most beautiful wine"

  • The next step up, in terms of qualityis what is known as Bordeaux Supérieur.

  • Yvon Mau is another large-scalegociant  Firm, shipping over four million cases a year.

  • Founded in 1897, Yvon Mau owns or represents  a number of Bordeaux's smaller producers, among  

  • them Château Ducla, a generic Bordeaux that has  recently been elevated to Bordeaux Supérieur status.  

  • "The main difference between Bordeaux and  Bordeaux Supérieur it's more consistency of quality".  

  • "The three principle differences are  that the Supérieur has to have half a  

  • degree potential alcohol more, it has to have  a slightly lower yield and it has to be aged  

  • for slightly longer in barrel, therefore intimating  that it is a slightly more structured wine".  

  • "We're not so fond of grapes and we think that  the terroir is much more important than the grapes,  

  • to give you an example and to be more precisewe think that the Cabernet produced in  

  • doc would be very different from the  Cabernet in California, just nothing like".

  • One of the finest qualities of  Bordeaux lies in the balance.

  • "It cannot be too much something, it could not be too much  alcohol, too much tanning, too much acidity.  

  • The art of Bordeaux, the mystery  of Bordeaux is to be a good balance  

  • and this balance must be, normally, with the food".

  • This is thedoc, a place the French refer  to as the 'Promised Land of Cabernet Sauvignon'.  

  • 'la Rive Gauche' or the Left Bank is comprised  of thedoc along with Graves and Sauternes

  • and it's here that we'll begin our journey  through the Appellations of Bordeaux.

  • October, the culmination ofyear's hard work in the vineyards,  

  • the harvest traditions remain strong here with  many of the same people returning year after year.

  • Timing the harvest is critical to obtain the  optimal balance of sugars and acids in the fruit  

  • and ultimately, to express  the character of the vineyard.  

  • The soils in the district are quite poor  for growing anything other than grapes  

  • but the rocky and gravelly soils retains  heat and drains easily, which makes it ideal for the late ripening Cabernet.

  • "Thedoc is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, that's the grape and Cabernet Sauvignon is a very small berry

  • and a small berry means a large surface of skin and therefore, the wines are quite tannic.

  • These wines tend to be more austere, they need to longer aging

  • than on the Right Bank, where it's Merlot dominant".

  • In their youth many of the red wines of Bordeaux,

  • although approachable, can be tight and  complex. Over time these characteristics  

  • give way to leather tones, tobacco and  dried fruit. Now the Vintage of a wine  

  • also contributes to its ageability. All wines, even  wines from extraordinary Vintages, eventually peak and later decline.

  • The finest Vintages can be aged  for up to a hundred years in the right conditions, all the while appreciating in  its subtle and complex qualities.  

  • How far back do the wines go in here? "Oh.. 1881"

  • An interesting cellar within the Region lies at Château Batailley in the commune of Pauillac.

  • These bottles are a testament to the Region's history

  • and each year the Château will add four to  six thousand bottles for future generations.  

  • This is quite the collection.

  • "This is the library, this is the memory of Batailley. 1982..."

  • Philippe Castéja is the Château owner and serves as chairman of thedoc Classified Growth's Organization.

  • What a library. "Oh yeah"

  • That gives a new definition to libraries. "Yeah.. exactly

  • Every vintage in Bordeaux is different, and  this climate, this adverse climate sometimes, has  

  • made our consumers to be searching  this Vintage or that Vintage because  

  • they want a wine which is going to be  to be drunk younger or a little older

  • So this is something that's going to last"  "Yeah, it's going to last for a century or so  

  • and but I'm sure that in 20, 25 years, it's going  to be excellent. Why don't we make an appointment?"  

  • Okay. I'm going to get my calendar, I'm  going to put that in.

  • "Okay, sold" Absolutely

  • Thedoc offers all sorts of quality wines  including mid-level priced wine, called Cru Bourgeois.

  • One of these is Château du Taillan, whose traditional approach is mitigated by some unique factors in its ownership.

  • "We are five girls owning the Château at the moment and we are very fond of this Château.

  • And we really want to go far with this Cru Bourgeois and to do the best we can for this wonderful Château.

  • So here we are in the old cellar from the 16th century.."

  • The Château itself was built in the 18th century and has  been in the Cruse Family for over 100 years.

  • Today even the barrel cellars, or Chai, are classified as historical monuments.

  • "The tradition is very important, especially in the Château du Taillan, as this Château belongs to a very  

  • old family, the Cruse Family, my family and so we  try to keep this tradition but to modernize slowly  

  • this tradition in order to keep the authenticity to the wine".

  • Cru Bourgeois producers have become very sensitive to the success of New World Wine.

  • "The market has changed since five years in the Cru Bourgeois.

  • We know that nowadays many people produce wine in the world and the only secret for us, in Bordeaux, in the Cru Bourgeoisin thedoc,

  • is to produce quality wine".

  • Traveling a little further South we come  to the heartland of the Bordeaux Region.  

  • Graves

  • Graves is the French word for gravel  

  • and the best Châteaus here are located on  distinctive gravel outcrops, called 'croupes'.

  • Unlike most other areas of Bordeaux, Graves  produces both red and white wines.

  • This is Château La Louvière, owned by André Lurton, one  of the most influential producers in the Region.

  • He has been a potent force in the  development and promotion of the Graves Region.  

  • "Wine can be made well anywhere in the  world with sunshine and good soil,  

  • what differs are the overall  characteristics of the terroir  

  • and we have our own special characteristicswhich comes from our soil but also from our blends"

  • The Graves Region has a reputation for producing  the highest quality dry white wines of Bordeaux.  

  • White wine production here combines the  traditional methods with modern techniques,  

  • the white wines of the Region use both Sauvignon Blanc andmillon.

  • "These are the top dry white wines from the Region of Bordeaux, which these  days would all have been fermented in barrel  

  • so the character tends to be a citrus character  in youth, a crispiness to them and an ageability".  

  • Moving East and across the Garonne Riverwe find Bordeaux's second geographic zone  

  • Entre-Deux-Mers, this is one of the largest  growing areas in Bordeaux and where the  

  • gociants harvest most of their grapes. However  it's only the white wines of the Region that can  

  • be labeled with the Appellation Entre-Deux-Mers.

  • Entre-Deux-Mers literally means 'between two seas' but in this case it's between two rivers,

  • the 'Dordogne' and 'la Garonne' and this is where they meet.

  • In between them, you'll find the largest mass of vineyards in all of Bordeaux.

  • Since the 1970s, many growers have been planting the red grape varieties in response to the market demand,

  • through advances in technology Entre-Deux-Mers has increased  both the quality and quantity of their yields.  

  • "This is a bargain place to shop for white and  red wines, wines that come around quickly, that  

  • are very good with food. And the whole thing  about Bordeaux is how well it matches food,  

  • many of the big wines from the New World  that one enjoys drinking are overpower food".

  • Tthe ancient people thought it was a sea, that is  the reason why they called Entre-Deux-Mers, between two seas.."

  • Château Bonnet in Entre-Deux-Mers, is  another of André Lurton's properties

  • an state also serving as his family homeHe inherited this property in 1956

  • and has since elevated the Château's  red and white wines to new heights.

  • "About 50 years ago we decided to transform it and make  a dry white wine and this is a dry wine, fruity 

  • and friendly, easy to drink, easy to understand".

  • Now we leave the thriving vineyards of Entre-Deux-Mers

  • and travel North across the river, to Bordeaux's  third geographic zone, the Right Bank.

  • As we've seen on the Left, in thedoc and Haut-Médoc, the soils are really gravelly and the blends from that side are  

  • dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. Over here howeverthe soils are more clay and limestone and Merlot  

  • thrives in this Region and is the predominant  varietal in the blends from these areas.

  • The wines here have always been more forward in character  than their austere cousins across the river.  

  • Now some may think that this is a newer region but you'd be wrong.

  • "Saintmilion hallelujah! Saintmilion hallelujah! Saintmilion hallelujah!"

  • Saintmilion, a beautiful medieval fortress  town, with hilly cobbled streets running  

  • through ancient limestone buildingshas been designated a world heritage site.

  • With a history stretching back over 800 years

  • Saintmilion was a wine region when  much of thedoc was only swampland.

  • "You could mistake a good Saintmilion for  a Pinot Noir, because they have that  

  • sweetness of fruit and they're  very accessible at a young age".

  • The largest wine estate here is Château Laroque,  

  • producing Grand Cru and Grand Cru Classé wines, the blend consists broadly of Merlot  

  • supported by Cabernet Franc with  just a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • "I believe that the styles of our wines is our history,  

  • it's our soils, it's our characteristics  and our personality".

  • Bruno Sainson, the director at Château Laroque, is  completely involved in the winemaking process.

  • "These are wines that are  going to express our terroir,  

  • they have a certain generosity of taste, with very  fine tannins and further refinement in barrel.  

  • But this refining is done to enhance the wine's quality not to mask or dominate".

  • The harvest reaps its bounty from the landmuch as it has for hundreds of years

  • but there's a constant revitalization in Bordeaux wine  adapting to the land, to the weather and even

  • to the tastes of the marketplace.

  • "Terroir is much more important than just the soil, it's the situation, it's for prevailing winds coming from the East,

  • it's the work that we do throughout here to till the soil, to treat the vines. All that comes in the notion of terroir

  • and the French believe that is more important than the grape variety".

  • This is Pomerol, a small Appellation on the Right Bank that has never been classified,

  • yet produces some of the most expensive wines in the world.

  • A small plateau with world-class Châteaus  making on average a thousand cases a year.  

  • The clay, sand and pebbled soil is so variable  that vineyards only a few feet apart produce  

  • wines that taste vastly different from one another.

  • "We're standing on the edge of the most expensive lawn in the world, the lawn of Vieux Château Certan,

  • but from the plateau where we are

  • you can see really the jewels of the  Pomerol area. There's La Conseillante, l'Evangile,  

  • trus, Lefleur and behind the Vieux Château Certanwhich is this Château here, we have Trotanoy,  

  • L'Église-Clinet, Le Pin. All surrounding the plateau.

  • If you can see it's quite pebbly, they're lots of small pebbles.." It really is.

  • The roots within each of the vineyards on this plateau burrow down into the clay-based soil,

  • deriving distinct characteristics from a variety of mineral elements.

  • "When people grow Merlot outside of France, they  look to Pomerol as the model and what they would  

  • like to,