The Bordeaux wine-producing area lies in the Aquitaine region of south-west France and remains the centre of the fine wine world. All its vineyards lie within the département of the Gironde. This vast region of 120,000ha of vineyards (four times the size of Burgundy) is home to 10,000 wine producers and 57 different appellation contrôlées.
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Bordeaux at a Glance
There are 120,630 hectares under vine, almost all of which produces wine of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) quality, making it the largest producer of AOC wine in France, representing 1.5% of the world's total vineyard area. Red wine, with minimal amount of rosé, accounts for 88% of production.
The vineyards lie around the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers with the Gironde Estuary. These waters exert a significant influence on both the climate and the soil structures of each sub-region in the appellation, by virtue of their sedimentary deposits. Those vineyards lying to the west of the Garonne and Gironde are deemed to be wines of the Left Bank, those to the east, Right Bank.
Bordeaux lies on the 45th parallel, in south-west France, close to the Atlantic Ocean, warmed by the Gulf Stream, and enjoys a mostly mild, maritime climate. This usually protects the vineyards from freezing winters although spring frosts remain an anxiety. A normal spring will be warm and damp, but the region's proximity to the Atlantic means that weather can be unpredictable, especially during the crucial flowering period in June.
Summers are hot, often with thunderstorms in August but the pine forests of the Landais to the west of the region help to moderate temperatures and protect the vineyards from the strong, prevailing winds off the Bay of Biscay. Harvest is from early September to the middle of October, depending on the grape variety and the conditions of the year and, as autumn approaches, rain during that period is a constant threat.