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Blaye - Bordeaux' Best Kept Secret?


What is Côtes de Blaye and Where is it?


Planted with more than 6,600 hectares of vines, Côtes de Blaye is one of the largest districts of the Côtes de Bordeaux Appellation. It is located around the small town of Blaye on the right bank of the Gironde estuary. This particular point holds strategic significance for many centuries and is known for its impressive citadel, which was designed in the late 1600s by architect Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, a renowned military architect. It gained UNESCO world heritage status in 2008.

image from Mes Sorties Culture


The Côtes de Blaye appellation is made of 40 different communes with a wide array of terroirs and soils and is know for making some of the best value wines from Bordeaux.


 

Brief History of Côtes de Blaye AOC


Known to have witnessed some of the greatest moments in the history of wine in France, the Côtes de Bordeaux appellation has vines first planted by the Romans in the 2nd century. They planted “Vitis Biturica” vines and the reputations of the wines produced by them were spread as far as Rome, according to the writings of Ausonius in the 4th century.

The timeline belows shows some of the important milestones of the history of Côtes de Blaye.


1935 - Bordeaux was created as an appellation by the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). The AOC is responsible for regulating the areas of production, grape varieties, the authorised yields per hectare and the minimum natural potential alcohol level of the grapes.


1938 - The AOCs were then created in the Blaye region by the name Premières Côtes de Blaye Rouge for the red wines, Premières Côtes de Blaye Blanc for the white wines and Blaye Rouge also for the red wines.


1985 - The revolution of vine-growing quality happened which eventually helped the young winegrowers of Blaye who pooled their resources and established the association of the 5 Côtes de Bordeaux.


1987 - Maison du Vin de Blaye was created by the Blaye winegrowers.


2004 - To recognize the appellations under one banner, the AOC Côtes de Bordeaux was renamed as Union des Côtes de Bordeaux which reunited the terroirs of Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon and Francs.


2008 - The draft was published which specified the technical specifications for the new appellation in the official journal. With a common family created Côtes de Bordeaux, "Premières Côtes de Blaye" became "Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux".


 

Terroir and Soils of Côtes de Blaye

Featuring a wide and diverse array of terroirs and soils, Côtes de Blaye has a topography which is somewhat hilly with limestone and clay soils. While the bottom of the slopes and on the flats the soils are composed of gravel, sand and chalk. The vineyards occupy free-draining slopes along the estuary and high plateaus that reach elevations of 70 metres.


The hillside plots benefit the exposure to the area’s abundant sunshine and the clayey soils which are suitable for growing Merlot and are able to create softer and supplier wines that are meant for early consumption. While the gravel soils are favoured more for growing Cabernet varieties which create more structured wines that have high levels of tannins and require and reward from cellaring.

The soils ar Bel-Air la Royere


 

The Grape Varietals of Côtes de Blaye


The three main red varietals in Blaye are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, but it is also quite common to see Cabernet Franc, Carmenere and Petit Verdot. In terms of white varietals Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are dominant, followed by Muscadelle, Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche.

images from the vineyards of Domaine Bel-Air la Royere


 

Wines from Côtes de Blaye


Côtes de Blaye produces some of the most enjoyable red wines of Bordeaux which are mostly consmed by the local people of France. Very little is exported, as the locals like to say they keep the best for themselves. The red wines of Blaye are well-rounded, fruity and very vibrant when it comes to colour and aromas. They are robust and suitable for long-term cellaring. The white wines of Blaye are largely made with Sauvignon Blanc and are delicate, crisp and fragrant. They are aromatic and are usually dry with a lighter colour.


Both the types of wines can be drunk young or can be aged for a few years. The red wines are labelled as coming from Blaye AOC while the whites are labelled as Côtes de Bordeaux Blaye.


 

Chateau Bel-Air La Royere


At A Wine Adventure, we are passionate about supporting women winemakers (who represent less than 27% of France's vineyard owners and oenologues), and of course sustainability. So when we stumbled across Corinne Chevrier and her organic wines from the region, we had to jump on the opportunity. After a tasting of the range with some of Singapore's finest palates, we decided to import her wines. We are the sole representative of the domaine here, and are very proud to distribute such an exquisite expression of the Côtes de Blaye appelation.


You can shop for Corinne's wines on our website https://www.awineadventure.com/frenchregions or simply tap on the images below.






Corinne (left) and her team at Chateau Bel-Air la Royere

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