Learn all the facts and figures for producing Bordeaux wine in all the major appellations of Left Bank and Right Bank. Discover the distribution and percentage of grape varieties and their percentage planted throughout the Bordeaux appellation as well as a look at the size of Bordeaux wine regions and even the number of cases of Bordeaux wines produced each year.
Size of the Bordeaux wine region and area in hectares planted in the Bordeaux appellation
Bordeaux is a massive wine region. Bordeaux is also the most popular wine region in the world. In France, Bordeaux is the second most visited city. Only Paris receives more visitors each year than Bordeaux!
While the majority of current events, the press and attention to Bordeaux wines focus on the best châteaux and producers, the Crus Classés of 1855 and the best wines from the prestigious Rive Droite appellations.
In total, there are 60 different Bordeaux appellations from 2015. To find out more about the appellations of the Bordeaux wine region: Guide to Bordeaux appellations The combined area of the 60 Bordeaux appellations covers more than 120,000 hectares, or 296 596 acres!
The 60 Bordeaux appellations are planted on a wide variety of different soils and terroirs. Detailed look at the terroir and soils of Bordeaux Today, there are less than 6,000 different castles in the region. Each area has an average of just under 20 hectares of vines in its vineyard. These 6,000 wineries and vineyards produce more than 9,000 different Bordeaux wines in each vintage.
The vineyards and the size of the properties of the castles have always changed in Bordeaux since the first culture of the region.
The trend in Bordeaux for several decades is consolidation. For example, in the 1990s, very few estates had more than 100 hectares planted with vines. Today, there are almost 50 different properties on more than 100 hectares.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of small vineyards have been annexed. During this same period, the number of domains also dropped dramatically.
In fact, only 1% of Bordeaux vineyards today cover 2 hectares or less. 70% of all Bordeaux vineyards have an area of at least 20 hectares, or 50 acres. In 1995, almost 14,000 different producers were active in Bordeaux. This is no longer the case today.
By 2015, that number had been almost halved, with only 7,375 producers remaining. This consolidation trend continues. In 2020, less than 6000 different domains were active in Bordeaux with each vineyard hovering over nearly 20 hectares of vines. For those who love all the facts, the largest vineyard in Bordeaux is Château La Borne, with 321 hectares of vines. La Borne is a generic producer of Bordeaux AOC.
The smallest vineyard on the Left Bank of Bordeaux is Château Linot with 0.7 hectares in the Saint Estephe appellation. There are even smaller properties on the right bank. In Pomerol, Enclos-Tourmaline had only 0.5 hectare of vines until they recently added more land.
Number of bottles and cases of Bordeaux wines produced per vintage in an average year.
In value, more than 2 billion euros of Bordeaux wines are produced each year! Bordeaux is the largest wine region in France and arguably the most important, influential and popular wine region in the world!
To give you an idea of the size and extent of the entire Bordeaux region, almost 900 million bottles of wine are produced from Bordeaux most years!
The total production of all Bordeaux wines has continued to increase since the 1960s, when the entire Bordeaux region produced nearly 500 million bottles of wine.
When we break it down a bit, that means that on average, nearly 68 million cases of red Bordeaux wine are produced each year! In addition, nearly 7 million cases of white Bordeaux wines are produced each year.
That’s a lot of wine! In fact, if you compare Bordeaux to all the other wine regions of the world, almost 1.5% of the wine worldwide comes from Bordeaux!
Bordeaux wine production represents nearly 15% of all wines produced in France each year. While 75 million cases of Bordeaux wine a year is an ocean of wine, most of the press, consumer interest, retail sales and this website, The Wine Cellar Insider focuses on an estimate, less 5% of this total.
In round figures, out of these 75 million cases of Bordeaux wines sold each year; 26% of all cases of Bordeaux wines have a price below 3 euros per bottle.
Indeed, only 3% of the total production of Bordeaux, or approximately 2,250,000 cases of wine, out of 75 million cases of Bordeaux sell for more than 15 euros per bottle.
As you can see, the vast majority, 71% of Bordeaux wines sell for between 3 and 15 euros per bottle. As we pointed out earlier, it is clear that very few Bordeaux wines sell for a lot of money.
But it is these famous and much sought after bottles of the best castles that attract all the press and attention.
Today, just under 60% of all the grapes harvested are used to produce Château bottled wines. The remaining 40% of the harvest is sold to traders, cooperatives and larger properties to produce branded wines.
However, these facts and figures do not tell the whole story. If there is clearly an ocean of Bordeaux wines produced each year in the major estates, the trend in recent decades has been to put less wine in the Grand Vin.
Yields are lower in better managed chateaux and the percentage of wine allocated to Grand Vin is lower for various reasons.
In the pursuit of efforts to produce superior quality wines in Bordeaux today, the selection is more strict in the vineyard and in the cellar. Now more wine is placed in the second, third and sometimes even fourth wines of the best estates.
More wine is declassified. At the upper end, this means that the supply is actually lower than that of previous generations. Keep in mind that these are the most famous collection areas, which represent only a small fraction of all Bordeaux wines produced.
Organic farming and biodynamic vineyard management
Organic farming continues to gain popularity. In 2020, almost 10% of all Bordeaux vineyards were either entirely organic, or at least experimented with organic farming on at least part of their vineyards. More than 11,000 hectares of vines have been certified fully organic by 2020.
Biodynamic agriculture is also on the rise. The influence of Château Latour, Château Pontet Canet, Château Palmer, Château d’Yquem and Château Climens, as well as other biodynamically certified properties cannot be underestimated.
AOC Wine Law in the Bordeaux appellation.
Bordeaux, due to its fame, which is largely generated by the famous Chateau First Growth, with wines known as Super Seconds, a continuous presence in auction houses all over the world and its knowledge of modern techniques vineyard and wine production remains the most influential wine region in the world.
Bordeaux, like all of Europe, has long had a system for creating appellations governed by the INAO. These are the same rules and laws that most European countries operate. Vineyards, French grapes and appellation laws
The Bordeaux wine region has many laws to regulate its production, or to make things difficult, depending on your point of view. Bordeaux is the highest ranked wine region in the world. With the exception of Pomerol, all the major wine regions are classified.
However, it is important to note that, even if Bordeaux is highly classified, classified castles produce less than 5% of the total volume. The largest classification is that of Cru Bourgeois classified castles.
Today, more than 25% of all wines produced, bottled and sold in the Médoc are currently classified as Cru Bourgeois.
Over the centuries, the quantity of red and white wines produced in Bordeaux has changed. Currently, many more red Bordeaux wines are produced each year. This was not always the case. At one point, dry white wines from Bordeaux were extremely popular.
Today, the production of white Bordeaux is much less important than the red wine of Bordeaux. The majority of quality dry white Bordeaux comes from Graves / Pessac Leognan. The remaining dry whites are produced only with the appellation Bordeaux or Entre deux Mers. The other famous white wines from Bordeaux are the famous sweet white Bordeaux wines from Sauternes.
Generic Bordeaux is the most produced wine of the appellation, followed by Bordeaux Superieur. Among the most important appellations, Margaux has the largest production, while Pomerol has the smallest.
While the production of generic Bordeaux wines which sells on average at 3 euros per bottle is massive, the producers who sell their wine for this small amount are in difficulty, because their wines do not sell.
The hope of the region is that many low-cost producers will no longer produce Bordeaux at this level, while at the same time, the Bordeaux wine region aims to increase the production of more expensive wines. Almost 60% of all Bordeaux wines are consumed in France.
This number continues to drop, with the French drinking less wine per person today than at any time in the past. Even if the French continue to consume the largest percentage of Bordeaux wine in the world, it is important to note that a large part of this wine is cheaper. Much of the wine produced by the famous Bordeaux chateaux is exported outside of France.
Grape varieties and percentages in hectares in the Bordeaux wine region.
Bordeaux is a region dominated by the production of red wine. Almost 90% of Bordeaux wines are red. The most planted grape variety is Merlot, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon.
For an overview of the varietal plantations in the Bordeaux appellation for red wine in 2020. This shows a slight increase in Merlot and a decrease in Cabernet.
Merlot 66% – 74,550 hectares
Cabernet Sauvignon 22.5% – 25,500 hectares
Cabernet Franc 9.5% – 11,000 hectares
Think about it. 98% of all red grape varieties in Bordeaux are dominated by the first three grape varieties. The remaining 2% of the entire Bordeaux wine region used in the production of Bordeaux red wine is planted in three different grape varieties:
Malbec – 974 hectares
Petit Verdot – 479 hectares
Carmenere – 4 hectares
As you can see, the Carmenère is now almost extinct in the wine region of Bordeaux.
For an overview of the white grape varieties of the Bordeaux appellation for the production of white Bordeaux wine in 2020:
Semillon 47% – 7,728 hectares
Sauvignon Blanc 45% – 6,400 hectares
Muscadelle 5% – 700 hectares
The shows a big trend in Bordeaux with a strong increase in Sauvignon Blanc and a decrease in Sémillon with Muscadelle.
The remaining 3% of the Bordeaux wine region used in the production of white Bordeaux wine is planted with a variety of grapes, including; Sauvignon Gris, Colombard, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc. Colombard and Ugni Blanc are mainly found in the appellations Entre Deux Mers and Côtes de Bourg.
These grape varieties are used in the production of white, generic, dry, very inexpensive Bordeaux wines. A few hectares are also devoted to Chardonnay in Bordeaux. But as Chardonnay requires different terroirs, it is almost nonexistent in Bordeaux.
Overview of the best appellations of Bordeaux.
To give you a rough idea of how the Bordeaux appellation breaks down into hectoliters for the production of its wine:
Bordeaux – 285,000 hectoliters
Saint-Émilion – 254,151 hectoliters
Médoc – 239,642 hectoliters
Bordeaux Superieur 234,431 hectoliters
Haut Médoc – 213,893 hectoliters
Margaux – 71,360 hectoliters
Pessac Leognan Red – 60381 hectoliters
Saint-Estèphe – 56,505 hectoliters
Pauillac – 55,410 hectoliters
Saint-Julien – 43,588 hectoliters
Pomerol – 34,850 hectoliters
In 2013, in terms of volume, China climbed to the top of the pyramid to buy Bordeaux wine since it imported nearly 532,000 hectoliters. For comparison, the United States of America imported 159,000 hectoliters.
However, these figures are misleading, because while China imported more wine by volume, America probably imported more wine by monetary value.
China has for some time been the largest buyer of high-end Bordeaux wines for wines like Château Lafite Rothschild and Petrus. This is not the case today. However, China also remains the largest buyer of low-end AOC Bordeaux wines.
It is believed that England is the largest importer of Bordeaux wine because they import more than thirty million bottles of Bordeaux wine each year!
Although the actual number of cases of Bordeaux wines imported into England varies depending on the vintage. But since much of the wine sold to England is sold to other countries, it is difficult to know where all the wine goes. The majority of the best Bordeaux wines and classified growths are sold through the Place de Bordeaux trading system.