Guy Downes
February 7, 2011 | Wine Making | Guy Downes

The Five Bordeaux Varietals

Today, with a total production of 3,500 cases, Bourassa Vineyards devotes much of it's attention to the five Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. So let's take a moment to introduce you to these famous varietals in a little more detail and tell you about their delicious characteristics!

Cabernet Franc

Flavors - Violets, blueberry, earth, black olive, coffee

Cabernet franc is an essential component of the world famous Bordeaux blend. When enjoyed as a single varietal wine it displays a a more tannic and earthy character than it's cousin Cabernet Sauvignon. Here in Napa and other warmer lands outside of Europe it's best known for violets and blueberry notes and the ripe tannins that produce a wonderful fresh roasted coffee scent. 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Flavors - Bell pepper, green olive, herb, cassis, black cherry

It is the primary varietal of our Bordeaux blend here in Napa Valley and is famous the world over. The blending process softens it's sometimes intense tannins and contributes thick and ripe flavors and aromas. Often layered with expensive new oak scents it is the one varietal that almost single-handedly created the phenomenon of cult wineries.


Flavors - Cherry, spice

While it's certainly one of the lesser blending grapes of the Bordeaux blend it's a key element to our wine making as shown in the 2004 Harmony5 Bordeaux Blend. As a single varietal it has risen to prominence in Argentina where it makes spicy wines that age well in new oak barrels. 


Flavors - Watermelon, strawberry, plum, cherry

Versatile is the best word to describe Merlot. Easy to like, easy to pronounce and much like a chardonnay of the red wine world! In Bordeaux the shining example of the varietal is Chateau Pétrus where it comprises 95 percent of their blend. It also makes up 23 percent of our Flagship wine, as shown in the 2003 Harmony3 Bordeaux Blend

Petit Verdot

Flavors - Blackberry, molasses, herb

Wine makers tend to use the Petit Verdot grape in a Bordeaux blend as chefs would use seasoning. Its careful inclusion to a blend adds dense fruit, dark color, powerful flavors and heavy tannins. There are also rare examples of single varietal wines such as our own 2006 Petit Verdot which when handled by an expert wine maker like Gary Galleron can be outstanding wines.

(Sources Flickr / Wine Enthusiast / Wine Pros)


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