Bordeaux trivia (II) - The secret of the Bordeaux Blends - climate


You might have noticed an interesting fact about Bordeaux wines– almost all red wines and most white wines produced in Bordeaux are blended wines. Why do wine growers choose not to concentrate on a single variety? The answer lies in the changeable climate of Bordeaux.

Image: Harvest at Chateau Olivier, Pessac Leognan by CIVB/Francois Ducasse

The wine appellations in Bordeaux are situated in a temperate zone close to the Atlantic. Therefore, vineyards in Bordeaux benefit largely from the mild, warm oceanic climate; but at the same time, they are constantly influenced by the unpredictable weather changes, making the vintages vary from year to year.

In spring, the Atlantic brings ample water during the growing season. But too much rainfall is not so welcomed in June — the flowering season – since excessive humidity may cause grapes not to grow, or berries differentiating from each other in terms of size and maturity.

The summer in Bordeaux is usually very hot with plenty of sunshine. Storms come but rainfall normally won’t last, meaning grapes ripen steadily.

Harvest season normally starts from mid-September and ends mid-October, but rainfall during this period will also affect the harvest.

The humidity from the Atlantic can also trigger the spread of noble rot, which is responsible for sweet white wines, and also grey rot, which threatens especially red grapes.

Since so many things can go wrong throughout the whole year, and the weather is very unpredictable in Bordeaux, most wine growers choose to plant a mixture of grapes, as different varieties respond differently to weather changes. By doing this, they are able to lower the risk of losing the entire vintage, and ensure the quality.

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