The red, dry white and sweet white wines from the Graves PDO area are all renowned for their elegance. They owe their typicality to the gravelly soil from which the area takes its name.
What you need to know
Reputed to be the oldest wine growing area in Bordeaux, Graves owes its development to the English. The marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to England's King Henry II in 1152 boosted trade between Bordeaux and London. The rosés produced in the region, then known as clarets, were exported and very quickly won favor because of their freshness and vivacity. Large estates were gradually established, producing high quality wines, and by the end of the 18th century, the wines of Graves were dominating the French, English and Northern European markets. The AOC was awarded in 1937. However, the diseases of the 19th century and the winter frosts of 1956 set the industry back, and it was only in the 1970s that it recovered its economic success.
The region owes its name to the gravel which overlies its poor, well drained soils. The stones reflect the sun and redistribute its heat to the vines, ensuring better maturation of the grapes. The climate is mild and temperate, with an ocean influence. The area produces red Graves, (dry) white Graves and Graves Supérieures, which are sweet white wines and sweet dessert wines. The reds are mainly made from Merlot, to which Cabernet Franc and Cabernet-Sauvignon are added. Semillon is the main grape in the whites, complemented by Sauvignon and in the case of the Graves Supérieures, Muscadelle. To obtain this last appellation, the grapes must be harvested when they are overripe, through successive sorting processes.
How to use
Storing Graves AOC
5 to 15 years for the reds
1 to 5 years for the whites
2 to 5 years for the Graves Supérieures
Savory: reds: red meats, game birds, porcini mushrooms, duck, lamb
Whites: snails with parsley, white meats in cream sauce, sea scallops, mussels
Graves Supérieures: foie gras, salty-sweet dishes.