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Description to Graves AOC
The Graves area in the Bordeaux region is an ancient wine-growing region. As early as the 1st century, the Romans planted vineyards here and the Roman author Columella (1st century AD) wrote enthusiastically about the ageing wines. Around 1300, the Archbishop of Bordeaux (later Pope Clement V) founded a vineyard that still exists today under the name Château Pape-Clément. The fame of Bordeaux was helped by the wines from Graves. The vineyard area was still about 10,000 hectares at the end of the 19th century, but in the last hundred years many vineyards were lost due to the growth of the city of Bordeaux. However, even today Graves encompasses the city area (the Châteaux Haut-Brion, La Mission and Les Carmes are located in a suburb). The vineyards stretch 50 kilometres south from Bordeaux and cover around 4,650 hectares, of which the regional appellation Graves covers around 3,000 hectares. The three appellations Barsac, Cérons and Sauternes are embedded as enclaves in the south. The area to the north, formerly known as Haut-Graves, where all the better châteaux are located, became the Pessac-Léognan appellation in 1987.
Soil type & grape varieties
The name Graves first appeared in the Middle Ages and derives from the gravelly soil (terre graveleuse). The pebbles are collected and placed next to the vines. They store the heat of the sun during the day and release the heat to the grapes until late at night. This promotes the ripening process naturally and increases the sugar content of the grapes. Another special feature are the rose bushes that are planted at the end of each row of vines. In the past, this was not done for visual reasons, but to give an early indication of diseases (for example fungal diseases). Two thirds of the vines are red and one third white.
The Graves appellation produces exceptional red, white and sweet wines. The white wines are blended from Sauvignon Bl anc, Sémillon with some Muscadelle and Merlot Blanc. They are predominantly vinified dry and fresh. The red wines are produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, whereby the cuvées vary greatly between the individual châteaux. They are the typical grape varieties of the Rive gauche (left bank). The Graves Supérieures appellation, with 500 hectares, designates mostly sweet, but also dry white wines with a higher alcohol content.
Cru Classé des Graves
Château Haut-Brion was the only non-Médoc estate to be included in the Bordeaux classification in 1855. In 1953 and 1959, a separate classification for red wines and white wines was introduced for Graves (with Château Haut-Brion as well). There is no ranking, only an alphabetical order. These châteaux are now all located in the Pessac-Léognan sub-area, which was separated in 1987. The designation of the wines is "Cru Classé des Graves".