1960s Archive

The Bordeaux Appellations

continued (page 5 of 5)

District wines labeled “St. Emilion” often come from the seven adjoining, less distinguished townships, but even these have a relatively high average quality—they are sturdy, warm, generous, wholly agreeable Clarets, pleasing even when young, and attractive even when not “great” they have been called “the Burgundies of the Bordeaux Country.” The great château-bottlings are, of course, of a far higher class and arc by no means inferior to the great Médocs, although their character is different.

Wines from the secondary, nearby townships have less breed, and occasionally a goût de terroir, or taste of heavy soil, but they are generally inexpensive and often good values. The six appellations involved are as follows, and they rank in this order of quality; St. Georges-St. Emilion, Montagne-St. Emilion, Lussac-St. Emilion, Puisseguin-St. Emilion, Parsac-St. Emilion, Sables-St. Emilion. A little while wine is produced, but is not entitled to any of these names.


One of the most interesting and attractive of all Oarers, produced only by some fifteen hundred acres of vineyard, mostly in a single townshipȔ the smallest of the famous districts into which the Bordeaux Country is divided, both by tradition and by French law. Some twenty miles east of Bordeaux, it adjoins St. Emilion, runs up to the edge of the little city of Libourne. and its vines grow on a high, rolling, rather gravelly plateau north of the Dordogne.

In average quality the wines sold simply as “Pomerol” are perhaps the best district wines of Bordeaux; they have a winning and generous warmth, great depth of flavor, a color of dark lustrous crimsan, and much of that peculiar velvety quality which the French call gras. They mature more quickly than the Médocs, are less subtle, shorter-lived. The best chôteau wines arc of course much finer; they include Château Pétrus (almost in a class by itself), Château Certan and Vieux Château Certan, and Châteaux La Conseillante, Trotanoy, Petit-Village, l'Evangile, Lafleur, Gazin, La Fleur Pétrus, Nénin, La Pointe, etc.


Secondary Bordeaux district, adjoining Pomerol on the north. Its wines, all red, resemble those of Pomerol but are less line. Château Bel-Air and Château de la Commanderie are considered the best vineyards.


Secondary Bordeaux district, bounded by Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, and Montagne-St. Emilion. Many good red wines, pleasant, soft, and generally not too expensive.


Small red-wine district which deserves to be better known than it is. The little town of Fronsac, from which it takes its name, is on the Dordogne River just west (downstream) from St. Emilion and Libourne, and the vineyards are on steep hills overlooking the valley. The best are in a zone entitled to the name Côtes-Canon-Fronsac, but Côtes-de-Fronsac is an appellation of only slightly lower class. Both produce extremely robust, deep-colored wines, what the French call “fleshy,” and soft, somewhat recalling the Pornerols but with less breed. They have long been popular in northern Europe and are good values. Total production amounts to some 400,000 gallons a year.


Name shared (in most instances with some suffix) by at least twenty towns and villages in France. The one of interest to wine driakers, neither the largest nor the most beautiful of the lot. has no suffix and is in the Bordeaux Country, on the Gironde estuary, directly across from the Médoc. The area of which it is the center produces some two million gallons of wine annually, a little over a third of it white wine of mediocre quality, the rest red, and much of it far from bad. Apart from the general appellation “Bordeaux Rouge” ( under which most of it is sold), it is entitled, when red, to the names “Bourg,” “Bourgeais,” and “Côtes de Bourg,” but these are rarely seen on wine labels outside France. Full-bodied, well balanced, made largely from the Cabernet grape, it is a red wine that should be better known.


Town and large wine-producing area in the Bordeaux Country, north of Bourg and opposite the Médoc, on the right bank of the Gironde estuary. Its annual production is in the neighborhood of four million gallons, about nineteenths of it white and, on the whole, of mediocre quality. The redȔfruity soft, and rather full-bodiedȔis somewhat better. The superior grades, both red and white, are entitled to the appellation “Premières Côtes de Blaye”; the commoner sorts are sold as “Blaye” or “Blayais,” or, perhaps more frequently, as just “Bordeaux Blanc” or “Bordeaux Rouge,” although not all of the whites are entitled even to this modest name.

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