Regional Bordeaux AOCs

In the Bordeaux wine region there is a number of Regional Appellations d'origine contrôlées (AOCs) that may be used throughout the region. These are Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur, Bordeaux Clairet, Bordeaux Rosé, Bordeaux Sec and Bordeaux Moelleux. They primarily represent the basic level of red, rosé and white wines of the region, and represent the largest production volume among the AOC wines of Bordeaux. The production area allowed to use these AOC covers the entire region, including those areas which also have access to more geographically delimited and prestigious AOCs.

These AOCs are often called generic because they do not indicate a specific subregion or commune within Bordeaux as the source of the wine. Large parts of the Bordeaux region can only use the generic appellations. Most Bordeaux AOC is produced within the Entre-Deux-Mers subregion.

Like all other AOCs in Bordeaux, even the simplest generic Bordeaux AOC wines are allowed to display the text Grand Vin de Bordeaux - Great wine of Bordeaux.

Bordeaux AOC

Wine style

Most Bordeaux AOC, red and dry white, is a simple and fruity everyday wine and is meant for early consumption rather than cellaring. More ambitious reds are usually sold as Bordeaux Supérieur AOC. Sweet white wines and Rosés must use other generic appellations than Bordeaux AOC.

Notable exceptions to the general rule of Bordeaux AOC as simpler wines are some dry white wines produced in Médoc and Sauternes, where the production of respectively red and sweet wines dominate. In difference from most of Graves, these areas are not allowed to use any other designation than Bordeaux AOC for dry white wines. Thus, some very ambitious and expensive dry white wines, such as Château Margaux's Pavillon Blanc and Château d'Yquem's "Y" have to be classified as "simple" Bordeaux AOCs.

Production and area

The vineyard area devoted to the production of Bordeaux AOC wines is approximately , of which are used for red wine and for white wine.

Average yearly production is around 2,900,000 hectoliter of wine, corresponding to around 390 million standard-size 75 cl bottles, and made up of 2,500,000 hectoliter of red wine and 420,000 hectoliter of white wine.

The maximal authorized yield for Bordeaux AOC is 55 hectoliter per hectare, and the alcohol level of the wine must be between 10 and 13 volume percent. Dry white Bordeaux may not have more than 4 grams per liter of residual sugar.

Grape varieties

For red wines, the most planted grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet Franc is not as common but also authorized. Petit Verdot and Malbec are scarce.

For white wines, Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon each represent 42% of the vineyard surface and Muscadelle 9%.

Bordeaux Supérieur AOC

The Bordeaux supérieur appellation covers the same geographic area as Bordeaux AOC. However, the wine in this appellation is produced by older vines. Moreover, Bordeaux supérieur wines must be raised at least for twelve month before they can be sold.

Production and surface

Yealy production: 530000 hectolitres

Surface : 25000 acres

Bordeaux Clairet AOC

Bordeaux clairet is a generic AOC) for the Bordeaux defined as "clairet". All other appellations in the Bordeaux region, including the most prestigious ones, are entitled to produce under this AOC. Bordeaux clairet is a wine which can either be described as a dark rosé wine or a light-coloured red wine. As there is also a more commonly used Bordeaux rosé designation, Bordeaux clairet is not simply any rosé from Bordeaux.

Bordeaux clairet wines are similar in colour to the wines which were shipped from Bordeaux to England during the Middle Ages, known as French Claret. These wines established the fame of Bordeaux as a wine-making region, and led to the (primarily British) practice of referring to Bordeaux as "claret". They are refreshing wines, appreciated because they can be easily enjoyed with picnics or exotic food.

Production and surface

Yearly production is 52,000 hectoliters from 925 hectares of vineyard surface. Maximum authorized yield is 55 hectolitres per hectare.

Grape varieties

The authorized grape varieties are the same as red Bordeaux AOC although Merlot is the most common of this AOC.

Summary of characteristics

Production requirements and statistics for the various regional AOCs are as follows:

AOC Bordeaux (red) Bordeaux Clairet Bordeaux Rosé Bordeaux Supérieur (red) Bordeaux (white) Bordeaux Sec Bordeaux Supérieur (white)
AOC requirements
Allowed grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Carmenère, Merlot rouge, Malbec, Petit Verdot Principial grape varieties (min 70%): Sémillon, Sauvignon (blanc and gris), Muscadelle
Accessory grape varieties (max 30%): Merlot blanc, Colombard, Mauzac, Ondenc, Ugni blanc
Principial grape varieties (min 70%): Sémillon, Sauvignon (blanc and gris), Muscadelle
Accessory grape varieties (max 30%): Merlot blanc (max 15%), Colombard, Mauzac, Ondenc, Ugni blanc
Specific colour requirement (if applicable) lightly coloured red rosé
Grape ripeness (in terms of minimum sugar content) 178 g/l 187 g/l 178 g/l 170 g/l 212 g/l
Alcohol content after fermentation min 10% min 11% min 10.5% min 10.5% (potential)
min 10% (actual)
min 10%
max 13%
min 12.5% (potential)
max 15% (potential)
min 11.5% (actual)
Residual sugar (if applicable) min 4 g/l max 4 g/l
Base yield 55 hl/ha 50 hl/ha 65 hl/ha 50 hl/ha
Minimum planting density 2,000 vines per ha
Maximum number of buds kept after pruning 60,000 per ha
Maturation requirement (if applicable), earliest sale date 1 July the year after harvest 1 July the year after harvest
Production statistics
Vineyard surface 44,000 ha 925 ha 3,300 ha 10,000 ha 6,740 ha
Average annual production 2,500,000 hl 52,000 hl 180,000 hl 530,000 hl 420,000 hl


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