This ancient wine-producing region extends south from Bordeaux, along the Garonne river, with the majority of the vineyards situated on the left (west) bank. There are 3500 hectares of vineyards.
The name comes from the word for gravelly, which describes the soil type in this area. This gravelly soil is ideal for growing vines thanks to it's drainage qualities. The soil also helps reflect the sun light and allows an even distribution of the sun's warmth over the grapes. This in turn leads to more grapes ripening at the same time.
There are a number of further appellations in this region in addition to the broad Graves AOC. Pessac-Léognan is the area closest to Bordeaux and has a reputation for having the best soils. It is home to the Premier Cru Chateau Haut Brion.
The red wines are blended from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Merlot tends to dominate, producing elegant wines rich in red fruits. Red wines produced in southern part of the Graves Appellation tend to be lighter, fruitier and can be drunk at a younger age.
Dry white wines can also be found in both Graves and Pessac-Leognan, made with Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
The famous sweet white wine Sauternes is made here. Other sweet wine Appellations include Barsac, Cerons and Graves Supérieures. Theses are made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.
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