Monday, May 7, 2012

Bordeaux & Bordeaux Superieur Wines-What are they really?

Bordeaux is probably the world's largest wine producing region, and among many of the oldest, with over 12,000 producers. The region itself has over 25 different appellations, most referring to a specific and geographically defined area that offers unique soils, microclimate and sun exposure. However there are two appellations that are often confusing for the average consumer and they are "Bordeaux" and  "Bordeaux Superieur". These are not specific appellations like the Cotes de Bourg, or St. Emilion, but appellations that encompass the entire region.

If a producer grows grapes anywhere within the Bordeaux wine region, and then produces wine from those grapes, the wine can be labelled as Bordeaux. This includes negociants (wine brokers) and anyone who purchases grapes and/or finished wines and bottles them. Thus the range of production can be enormous from a bottling of 5000 to 500,000 bottles, and quality ranging from basic industrially produced wines to good basic wine offering good value.

How is the consumer to know from what he/she finds on the shelf? Difficult question indeed.  However, here is something you can use everyday.

Look more for Bordeaux wines displaying the appellation "Bordeaux Superieur". Why you ask? What is the difference? Is the wine actually superior to those labelled "Bordeaux" and does it warrant the few dollars more in price? The short and simple answer is yes!

Wines offered for consideration for the Bordeaux Superieur appellation are judged by a juried panel from submitted samples and must meet the same criteria as "Bordeaux" wines, and additionally show superb ripeness (meaning that the wine must reach 12% alcohol by volume from entirely natural grape sugars; inferior or less ripe grapes require added sugar to reach 12%) in addition to a quality level that would merit aging for a number of years, to warrant the granting of this appellation.

From an importer's point of view (read: Grape News Importing), the Bordeaux Superieur appellation is a great source of wonderful and very affordable wines ($12-16), but the search can be long, evaluating many wines that are fine, but don't meet my severe criteria for wines that represent the efforts of winemakers that are true artisans. I represent 3 different properties that make truly superior wines in the appellation of Bordeaux Superieur and you will read about them this week as I make my rounds.

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