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Study Cards on bank, bordeaux, clay

Describe the location of the Bordeaux wine region in France.
  • Rivers: Gironde, Garonne, Dordogne, Ciron (Sauternes & Barsac)
  • Left bank: Bas Medoc, Haut Medoc, Graves, Sauternes, Barsac
  • Right bank: St. Emilion, SE satellites (PLMSg), Pomerol, Libourne, Côtes de Bordeaux (Blaye, Castillon, Francs), Côtes de Bourg.
  • Entre deux Mers: white wines only
Soils are a major part in the quality of Bordeaux wines. What are the soils on the left bank of Bordeaux (Médoc to Graves) and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • Left bank: gravel and stony. Depending from origin mixed with clay, sand and minerals.
    • not high hills (max 32 m Margaux)
    • Gravel drains well > helps drying vines after the many rain showers
    • Advantage: Gravel gives heat retention: retain in daytime and release at night
    • Disadvantage: extreme hot years: drought stress
  • Pockets of clay, esp. In Saint-Estèphe > robust wines
  • All the top estates are planted on gravel mounds (named Croupes)
What are the soils of the right bank of Bordeaux and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Right bank:
  • Gravel and stony as left bank but more clay
  • Merlot > ideal on clay soils. Ripens fully, more sugar > more alcohol than CS and CF
  • Best wines from:
    • the limestone plateau or
    • the gravel section that borders Pomerol
  • Pomerol: shallow soil (< 1 meter) > vines suffer from drought stress when extremely hot because of drainage by pebbles
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