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MijnWijnPlein selects delicious fine wines from local winemakers in Bordeaux and combines them with delicious recipes.
Six main varieties, three red and three white, are used for winemaking in Bordeaux. In-depth knowledge of the soils has made it possible to alter the choice of varieties to make the most of the aromatic dimension of the wines. Complementary varieties, called “auxiliary,” are present in lesser quantities and can help bring out a wine’s specific personality during assemblage, or blending.
The specific aromas of each grape variety blend together in assemblage to create a unique wine. One of the things that make Bordeaux wines so unique is that they are created by a blend of several grape varieties. Each grape variety has its characteristics, soil, and microclimate: it is the mastery of these combinations that makes Bordeaux wines so unique.
Geographic factors and the styles of wine produced are what define the six regions of Bordeaux: The Médoc, Blaye & Bourg, The Libournais, Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves and Sauternais, Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur.
In the 1st century NC the Biturica is discovered. This grape variety that resisted the harsh winters brought prosperity to the Roman occupation. After the Fall of Rome and five centuries of invasions, monks were the ones to rescue Biturica's genetic legacy by protecting and tending the parcels of land surrounding churches and abbeys.
In 1152, the union between Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and Henry Plantagenet, the future King of England, sealed the fate of Bordeaux wines forever. Bordeaux established a monopoly in the production, sale and distribution of wine to Great Britain. The vineyards extended to Fronsac, Saint-Émilion, Cadillac, Barsac and Langon.
The flow of trade was stopped dead in its tracks by the bloody Hundred Years' War between France and England. In 1475 things returned to normal, and Louis XI authorized British ships to return to the port of Bordeaux. But trade was never restored to its former glory.
An era of prosperity began in the 17th century. As important traders and buyers, the Dutch steered production towards the first fine wines, such as the famous 'Ho-Bryan' that would go on to become Haut-Brion. They brought innovation, sterilizing barrels with sulphur to facilitate the conservation and transportation of the wines.
A new golden age began in the early 19th century. Production doubled, exports tripled, and the English love affair with Bordeaux was back on track. Quality improved with the 1855 Classification system. Powdery mildew, a dreadful vine disease, hit the vineyards in 1851. In 1857 it was discovered that spraying sulphur on the vines could eliminate the disease! Between 1875 and 1892, it was phylloxera's turn to hit, destroying the entire vineyard. Eventually the vines were saved by grafting Bordeaux scions onto American rootstock that could resist the disease. Mildew followed in phylloxera's trail. This parasitic fungus was brought under control when Bordeaux mixture was invented, a blend of slaked lime and copper sulphate.
In 1936, the I.N.A.O. (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine) was founded, which aimed to enhance the value of products by improving their quality. Striving to perpetuate the expertise of their forebears, the new generation of thirty something Bordeaux winemakers found the right compromises between tradition and modernity.