France: Bordeaux

Southern Graves and Sauternes

Home of the great sweet whites - dry whites and reds too
By Jane Anson

This Guide was last updated on 11 May 2010
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Main grape varieties


Cabernet Sauvignon
The most important grape for the red wines of Graves, it can be difficult to ripen on cooler, damper soils and thrives on the well-drained warm gravel soils.

Produces supple wines that develop earlier and also complement Cabernet Sauvignon in the red wine blends. In the Graves region the proportion of Merlot in the blend is higher than in the Médoc.

Cabernet Franc
Often called Bouchet it is a lighter and less intense version of Cabernet Sauvignon, but gives many wines their finesse.

Petit Verdot
A permitted variety, but few blends include it here.

Occasionally used as a blending ingredient.


Sauvignon Blanc
Dominant grape for the best dry white wines in the Graves AC.

Blended with Sauvignon Blanc, it adds richness, structure and ageing potential to dry whites. Particularly susceptible to noble rot, it is the principal grape for the sweet whites of Sauternes, Barsac and Cérons, accounting for up to 80% in a blend.

Ugni Blanc
Used very occasionally for dry white Bordeaux AC blends.

Adds perfumed character to sweet wines.

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