As mentioned earlier, the region of Bordeaux is fortunate to have a remarkably temperate climate -- this is thanks in large part to the Atlantic Ocean. The winters of the region are very mild and have only occasionally reached temperatures that seriously damaged the vines, meaning crops seldom require replanting. With the singular exception of heavy rain and thunderstorms throughout September, spring and fall are often mild as well. Summers in the region, however, have been increasingly hot.
According to a set of detailed climate and agricultural records, which France has been keeping for hundreds of years, the increased heat has made the harvest happen earlier and earlier, with the 2003 crop having the earliest harvest in history [source: the Wine Doctor].
The soil composition of the overall region varies, but generally, the land of Bordeaux includes a variety of combinations of clay, limestone, gravel and sand. The region itself is broken down into six terroirs (broadly, a terroir is a microclimate or area denoted by its soil type, topography and weather conditions, all of which work together to affect the flavor of the wine produced in that area). The terroirs of Bordeax are:
- Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur Terroir
- Dry White Wines Terroir
- Côtes de Bordeaux Terroir
- Médoc and Graves Terroir
- Saint-Emillion, Pomerol, Fronsac Terroir
- Sweet White Wines Terroir
Reportedly, there are more than 13,000 wine growers in Bordeaux and approximately 9,000 wine-producing châteaus bottling wines. What is grown on these vineyards could be a combination of many grape varieties. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most commonly harvested grapes in Bordeaux. Beyond these two prominent varieties, you'll also find Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenère, Petit Verdot, Sémillon, Colombard, Merlot Blanc, Muscadelle and many others [source: the Wine Doctor].