Bordeaux Vineyards and Soils

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  1. Name 5 Geologic Time Periods
    • Triassic: 251M-199M years ago
    • Jurassic: 199M-145M years ago
    • Cretaceous: 145M-65M years ago
    • Tertiary: 65M-1.8M years ago
    • Quaternary: 1.8M years ago to present (ice age ended 10K years ago)
  2. What does Lacustrine mean?
    lake deposits... freshwater sediment (clay, silt, sand, gravel)
  3. Is sedimentation heavier in lakes or marine environments?
    Lacustrine deposits are 10X heavier than marine deposits
  4. Where is the Massif Amorican?
    Brittany (65K square km)
  5. What is Calcaire a Asteries?
    • Starfish Limestone
    • Subsoil in left bank, right bank, Entre-Eeux-Mers
  6. What is an anticlinal bulge?
    Upthrust of soil layers (folding that puts oldest soil in center)
  7. What is Molasse?
    Terrestrial or marine deposits formed at the base of rising mountains; usually alluvial/fluvial sediments.
  8. Name 4 types of fresh-water sedimentation in order of age
    • Pericord sands: alluvial, 55M-26M years ago
    • Calcaire de Castillon: lacustrine, 36M-24M years ago
    • Fronsadais Molasse: alluvial, 36M-24M years ago
    • Molasse de l'Armagnac: alluvial, 7M-5M years ago
  9. Describe the 2 parts of the Aquitaine Basin
    • North: less deep, less upheaval, erosion of limestone plus clay, sand, gravel from Massif Central
    • South: sand, gravel from Massif Central, Pyrenees, and Perigord
    • separated by barrier reef during Jurassic period
  10. Name 7 French vineyard terms
    • Dechausser: removal of hilled up earth (March)
    • Palissage: trellis
    • Tailler: prune (Nov, July leaf pull/green harvest)
    • Aste: cane
    • Cot: spur
    • Ebourgeonnage: bud trimming
    • Epamprage: desuckering
    • Aoutement: stop vegetative growth (July)
    • Ban des Vendanges: harvest start date decreed by Prefect of the Gironde
  11. Name 4 French vine lifecycle terms
    • Debourrement: bud break (March)
    • Floraison: flowering (May)
    • Nouaison: berry set (May)
    • Veraison: grapes change color (August)
  12. Name the dominant training systems used in Bordeaux
    • Guyot: 6-10 buds, 2-bud renewal spur
    • Medoc/Graves: 2 cordons, each with 5-7 buds, and 2-bud renewal spur
    • Sauternes: 4 cordons and four 2-bud renewal spurs
    • Trial: Lyre system is not approved (improves air circulation and sunlight exposure)
  13. Are cover crops used between rows in Bordeaux?
    Experimental; prevents erosion and slows down vegetative growth
  14. Are grapes harvested by hand in Bordeaux?
    • Mandated in sweet appellations
    • Top estates hand-harvest
    • Mechanization has made inroads elsewhere in Bordeaux
  15. Are grapes irrigated in Bordeaux?
    Irrigation is illegal.
  16. What planting density is used in Bordeaux?
    • Medoc/Pessac-Leognan: high density (10K vines/ha = 4K vines/acre)
    • Cotes: moderate density (5K-6K vines/ha)
    • Bordeaux: wide spacing (2K-4K vines/ha)
  17. How large is Bordeaux (i.e., the Gironde departement)?
    • 63 miles N-S, 78 miles E-W: 1M ha
    • Left bank: 75 miles N-S diagonal, 5 miles E-W, 300 chateaux
  18. Characterize the soils of the left bank
    • Not fertile
    • Soils regulate water supply (no extremes regardless of rainfall)
  19. What does a regulated water supply mean?
    Roots are deep enough to avoid absorbing too much rain (dilute extract) and tap into water table during drought
  20. What is a balanced canopy?
    • Fruit is not shaded
    • Most leaves are photosynthesizing
    • Air can circulate to dry leaves and fruit (mitigates disease)
  21. Describe the topography of Bordeaux
    • Left Bank: Flat, 100-140 ft above sea level, "hills" are flat rises atop lowlands.
    • Right Bank: String of small hills, interspersed by low lying plateaus and deep valleys. Elevation peaks at 377 ft in Ste.-Foy.
  22. Describe the soils of the first growths
    • Gravel atop limestone
    • Haut Brion: 30' Gunz gravel atop pre-Ice Age gravel atop starfish limestone
    • Lafite-Rothschile/Mouton-Rothschild: these adjacenet properties have 30' Gunz gravel atop sand-marl atop St. Estephe limestone
    • Latour: 30' Gunz gravel atop sandy oyster shell marl atop St. Estephe limestone
    • Margaux: Mostly thin gravels atop freshwater limestone (Lacustre de Plaisac) and blue-grey Fronsadais marl.
  23. What is La Terre Blanche ("white soil")?
    Ch. Margaux's soil mix
  24. What is the Jalle de Blanquefort?
    Dividing line between Medoc and Graves
  25. Describe Graves soil
    • 35 miles along Garonne's left bank
    • North: gravel mounds favor red cultivars which thrive in the clay and silt
    • Central: including Cerons, transitional
    • South: Barsac/Sauternes: much more limestone
  26. Describe Bourg and Blaye soil
    Sand/loam/gravel/siderolithique soils atop starfish limestone
  27. What is Siderolithique soil?
    Ironstone created by weathering of iron in clay; well-structured red wines
  28. Describe Fronsac/Canon-Fronsac soil
    • Starfish limestone atop Fronsadais molasse
    • Separated from Pomerol/St. Emilion by Isle river
    • Canon-Fronsac is hillier than Fronsac
  29. Describe Pomerol soil
    • Mostly Gunz gravel; higher elevation than Medoc
    • Petrus, Trotanoy, Vieux Ch. Certain are sandy gravel atop Fronsadais marl
    • Lalande-de-Pomerol on ice age alluvial gravel
  30. Describe the soil of Saint-Emilion and its Satellites
    • Clay-silt-sand atop weathered starfish limestone
    • Satellites on limestone buttes amidst Perigord sands
    • 17 variations of clay-silt-sand-limestone compositions
  31. Describe the soil of Cotes de Francs and Cotes de Castillon
    • Cotes de Francs: Perigord sands
    • Cotes de Castillon: lacustrine limestone
    • Neither produces age worthy wine
  32. Are the top Saint-Emilion wines on typical soil?
    • Ausone on starfish limestone (typical)
    • Cheval Blanc on iron-rich gravel (atypical... more like Pomerol)
  33. What is a butte?
    Flat-topped hill with steep slopes (escarpments)
  34. What is loess?
    fine wind-blown silts and sands
  35. Describe Entre-Deux-Mers soil
    Clay, Silt, Sand atop weathered starfish limestone, plus small gravels and loess
  36. Name 3 unique terroirs in Entre-Deux-Mers
    • Loupiac/Sainte-Croix du Mont/Cadillac: Escarpment blocks mist rising off of the confluence of the Ciron and Garonne rivers
    • Graves de Vayres: lies opposite the mouth of the Isle river and has heavy gravel deposit
    • Sainte-Foy ("holy faith"): freshwater limestone buttes; highest elevation in Bordeaux
  37. Name the grapes that prefer gravel and sand (warm soils)
    • Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Petit Verdot
  38. Name the grapes that prefer clay and limestone (cold soils)
    • Clay: Merlot
    • Limestone: Cabernet Franc, Malbec
  39. Name the 2 types of gravel in Bordeaux
    • Gunz/Garonne (large): produces structured, long-lived wines
    • Gunz/Isle (medium): Pomerol; iron-rich sands and clays between the stones
    • Pyrenean (small): produces fruit-forward wines that mature in 5 years
  40. Describe the types of wines produced on different soils
    • Limestone: pronounced acidity and lean tannins (smooth but firm)
    • Iron: notes of prune and black walnut
    • Clay: dense tannins (suede-like) and takes time to mature
    • Silt/Sand: soft and fruit-forward; easy drink-ability, simple

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Bordeaux Vineyards and Soils
2013-12-01 16:56:53
FWS Bordeaux

FWS Master Level
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