Today, we are going to discuss two European wine regions, specifically Bordeaux and Germany. You may already know Bordeaux for its high-end red wines and Germany for its Rieslings, but there’s so much more to these regions than what meets the eye. First, let’s dive into a little background on each region.
Bordeaux, France is located on the 45th parallel near the Atlantic Ocean and boasts a temperate
maritime climate. With close to 108,000 hectares of vineyard area, Bordeaux is France’s largest wine region. The 65 AOCs are often described by relation to the three key bodies of water, “Left Bank,” “Right Bank,” or “Entre-Deux-Mers,” which translates to ‘Between Two Tides.” Eighty-nine percent of Bordeaux vineyard area is devoted to red grapes, leaving the remaining 11% for white grapes. As you may know, Bordeaux is most famously known for their blends. They have nailed the art of mixing several varieties to create a balanced wine.
Although their red blends make up the bulk of the region’s production, the area also produces white wines, rosés, sparkling wines, and sweet whites. The most notable grape varieties in Bordeaux are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc for red grapes and Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc for white grapes. In 2020, 75% of Bordeaux’s vineyard area was farmed with a certified environmental approach; sustainable and delicious, a win, win in our book!
Germany is one of the most northerly viticultural areas of the world. Because of this cool climate, German wines are typically higher in acidity, making them light, refreshing and great for pairing with a variety of dishes. Germany has roughly 103,000 hectares of vineyard area and is divided into 13 distinct wine regions, concentrated in the southern and southwest part of the country. Although several varieties are grown in Germany, the most widely available are Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner.
Riesling is Germany’s most widely grown grape, grown in all 13 regions. Germany is home to more than 40% of Riesling plantings worldwide. However, red wine continues to grow in Germany: Spätburgunder, or Pinot Noir, is the second most planted variety. Germany’s grapes are especially suited for the production of sparkling wine, or “Sekt” as it is referred to in German. Also, over half of the wine production in Germany is dry, or trocken. These off-dry, fruitier styles tend to have wonderful acidity to balance out any residual sugar that comes from using overripe grapes.
Although these regions may seem drastically different, they share some fascinating similarities. While we associate Germany with Riesling and red blends with Bordeaux, lesser known to most consumers in the States are Germany’s world-class red wines, Bordeaux’s high quality white wines and the sparkling wines from both regions.
Germany’s combined 13 wine regions and France’s Bordeaux region contain similar vineyard acreage and are situated towards the southwest of their country’s borders. Both areas have the benefit of the warming and regulating effects of the Gulf Stream along with protection from surrounding mountains and forests. Vineyards in both Germany and Bordeaux tend to be situated along rolling rivers, Germany’s Mosel and Rhine Rivers and Bordeaux’s Gironde Estuary, Garonne, and Dordogne Rivers. These Rivers contribute to the unique profiles of the wines produced on their banks. Both areas are wonderful to visit, as they both offer endless activities, touring opportunities, both in and out of the winery tasting rooms and provide unparalleled wine sipping scenery.
These wine regions have deep viticultural histories (more to come on that in next month’s blog post!) with centuries of tradition, and they are now empowering new industry members through education, research, and networking organizations to bring new perspectives, more efficient processes, sustainable techniques and increasingly high-quality wines.
No matter what the celebration, no matter what the occasion, sparkling or still, we recommend grabbing some bottles from both Bordeaux and Germany! Visit here for more information on wines from both regions. Cheers, friends!
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