BordeauxWine history

  • AD 350 - Latin poet Ausonius provides first recorded mention of wine production in Bordeaux. Ch. Ausone was named after him in his honour.
  • 1152 - Henry Plantagenet (later Henry II of England) marries Eleanor of Aquitaine and acquires Gascony and most of western France. Trade with England establishes Bordeaux's pre-eminence.
  • 1453 - end of Hundred Years War. Gascony reverts to French rule. Trade with England continues, but links with the Low Countries forged.
  • 1650 - Dutch engineers begin draining the marshy Médoc and vineyards are planted in that region. Lafite, Latour, Margaux probably planted about 1690.
  • 1703 - Methuen Treaty with Portugal. Duty on French wines not to be less than 50% more than levied on Portuguese wines. Smuggling rife.
  • Early 18th century - rise of the Bordeaux merchant class, supplying the rising middle classes of Britain and elsewhere in Europe. Many originate from Britain (including Ireland), Germany and the Low Countries.
  • 1855 - Classification of the Médoc, Sauternes and Barsac.
  • 1860 - Anglo-French treaty reduces duty on French wine to two old pence a bottle. Great prosperity in the region.
  • Mid 1870s - arrival of phylloxera.
  • 1918 to 1930 - post-war recession, closure of Russian market, prohibition in USA. Many châteaux sold.
  • 1936 - establishment of Appellation Contrôllée for Bordeaux.
  • 1940 to 1944 - German occupation of Bordeaux.
  • 1955 - Classification of St. Emilion.
  • Mid 1950s - emergence of St. Emilion and Pomerol as important regions.
  • 1959 - Re-classification of the red and white wines of the Graves, first done in 1953.
  • 1960s - re-emergence of important export markets. Reinvestment in vineyards and châteaux begins.
  • 1973 - the market crash and Cruse scandal. Many négociants only saved from bankruptcy by foreign investment. The start of corporate purchasing of châteaux.
  • 1982 onwards - a legendary vintage coinciding with global affluence, the emergence of en primeur, the beginning of a period of great prosperity.

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