This page offers facts and figures for the production of Bordeaux wine in all the major Bordeaux appellations in Left Bank and the Right Bank. This page also lets you discover the breakdown and percentage of grape varieties and their percentage planted throughout the entire Bordeaux appellation along with a look at the size of the Bordeaux wine regions and even the number of cases of Bordeaux wine produced every year.
Bordeaux is a massive wine producing region. Bordeaux is also the world’s most popular wine region. In France, Bordeaux is the second most visited city. Only Paris receives more visitors each year than Bordeaux! While the majority of the news, press and attention on Bordeaux wine is focused on the top chateaux and producers, 1855 Classified Growths and the best wines from the prestigious Right Bank appellations, there are 54 different Bordeaux appellations in total. To read about the appellations of the Bordeaux wine region: Bordeaux Appellations Guide The combined acreage for all 54 Bordeaux appellations encompasses more than 120,000 hectares, or 296,596 acres! The 54 appellations of Bordeaux are planted on a wide variety of different soils and terroir. Detailed look at Bordeaux Terroir and Soil Today, there are currently 7,375 different chateaux in the region. Each estate has an average of 17 hectares of vines. Those 7,375 wineries make more than 10,000 different Bordeaux wines.
Vineyards and the size of the chateaux holdings have always changed in Bordeaux since the region was first cultivated. The trend in Bordeaux for the past several decades has been consolidation. As an example, during the 1990’s, very few estates had more than 100 planted hectares of vines. Today, there are close to 50 holdings consisting of more than 100 hectares. Hundreds, if not thousands of smaller vineyards have been annexed. For those of you that like all the facts, the largest vineyard in Bordeaux is the 321 hectare Chateau La Borne, a generic Bordeaux AOC producer. The smallest vineyard could be the .7 hectares of vines planted by Chateau Linot, located in the Saint Estephe appellation.
In value, more than 2 billion Euros of Bordeaux wine is produced each year! Bordeaux is the largest wine producing region in France and arguably the most important and popular wine region in the world! To give you an idea of the size and scope of the entire Bordeaux region, close to 450 million bottles of wine are produced of Bordeaux wine in most years! When you break that down a bit, that means on average, close to 39 million cases of red Bordeaux wine are produced each year! Additionally, almost 4 million cases of white Bordeaux wine are produced each year. That is a lot of wine! In fact, if you compare Bordeaux to all the other wine regions in the world, close to 1.5% of the entire world’s wine comes from Bordeaux! While 44 million cases of Bordeaux wine per year is an ocean of wine, most of the press, consumer interest, retail sales and this web site, The Wine Cellar Insider is focused on as a guess, less than 5% of that total.
However, those facts and figures do not tell the entire story. While there is clearly an ocean of Bordeaux wine produced every year, at the top estates, the trend over the past few decades has been to place less wine into the Grand Vin. Yields are lower at the better managed chateaux and the percentage of wine allotted to the Grand Vin is less due to various reasons. Selection is stricter in the vineyard and in the cellar. More wine now goes into second, third and sometimes even 4th wines of the best estates. More wine is declassified. At the top end, this means that the supply is actually lower, than for previous generations. Keep in mind, this is for the most famous, collectible estates, which represent only a small fraction of all Bordeaux wine produced.
Bordeaux, due to its fame, that is to a large degree generated by the famous First Growth chateau, along with the wines known as the Super Seconds, continuous presence in auction houses all over the world and its knowledge of modern vineyard techniques and wine production remains the most influential wine producing region in the world. Bordeaux, like all of Europe has a long standing system for the creation of their appellations that are governed by the INAO. These are art of the same rules and laws most of Europe operates under. Vineyards, Grapes of France and Appellation Laws
The Bordeaux wine region has numerous laws to help regulate its production, or to make things difficult, depending on your point of view. Bordeaux is the most classified wine region in the world. With the exception of Pomerol, all the major wine regions are classified.
However, it’s important to note, that even though Bordeaux is heavily classified, the chateaux that are classified produced less than 5% of the total volume. The largest classification is the chateaux classified as Cru Bourgeois. Today, more than 25% of all the wine produced, bottled and sold from the Medoc is currently classified as Cru Bourgeois.
Over the centuries the amount of red and white wine produced in Bordeaux has shifted. Currently, far more red Bordeaux wine is produced each year. That was not always the case. At one point, the dry white wines of Bordeaux were extremely popular. Today, the production of white Bordeaux is much less significant than the red wine of Bordeaux. The majority of quality, dry, white Bordeaux comes from Graves/Pessac Leognan. The remaining dry whites are produced with just the Bordeaux designation, or from Entre deux Mers. The other famous white wine of Bordeaux are the famous, sweet, white Bordeaux wines of Sauternes.
Generic Bordeaux wine is the most widely produced wine of the appellation, followed by Bordeaux Superieur. Of the most important appellations, Margaux has the largest production, while Pomerol has the smallest. While the production of generic Bordeaux wine that sells for an average of 3 Euro per bottle is massive, producers selling their wine for that small an amount of money are in trouble, as their wines are not selling. It is the hope of the region that many lower priced producers no longer make Bordeaux at that level, while at the same time, it is the goal of the Bordeaux wine region to increase production for more expensive wines. Close to 60% of all Bordeaux wine is consumed in France. That number continues to decline, as the French are drinking less wine per person today, than at anytime in the past. Even though the French continue to consume the largest percentage of Bordeaux wine in the world, it’s important to note, a large portion of that is lesser priced wine. Much of the wine produced by the famous chateaux of Bordeaux is exported outside of France.
For a rough look at the grape varietal plantings in the Bordeaux appellation for red wine:
Merlot 62% – 69,138 hectares
Cabernet Sauvignon 25% – 28,347 hectares
Cabernet Franc 12% – 13,218 hectares
Think about it. 99% of all red wine grape varieties in Bordeaux are dominated by the top three grape varietal’s. The remaining 1% of the entire Bordeaux wine region used in the production of red Bordeaux wine is planted to three different grape varieties:
As you can see, Carmenere is almost extinct in the Bordeaux wine region today.
For a rough look at the grape varietal plantings in the Bordeaux appellation for the production of white Bordeaux wine:
The remaining 3% of the Bordeaux wine region used in the production of white Bordeaux wine is planted to a variety of grapes including; Sauvignon Gris, Colombard, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc. Colombard and Ugni Blanc are mostly found in the Entre Deux Mers and Cotes de Bourg appellations. Those grape varietals are used in the production of very, inexpensive, generic, dry, white Bordeaux wine. A few hectares are also devoted to Chardonnay in Bordeaux. But as Chardonnay requires different soils, it almost non existent in Bordeaux.
To give you a rough idea of how the Bordeaux appellation breaks down in terms of hectoliters for the production of its wine:
Bordeaux – 285,000 hectoliters
St. Emilion – 254,151 hectoliters
Medoc – 239,642 hectoliters
Bordeaux Superieur 234,431 hectoliters
Haut Medoc – 213,893 hectoliters
Margaux – 71,360 hectoliters
Pessac Leognan Red – 60,381 hectoliters
St. Estephe – 56,505 hectoliters
Pauillac – 55,410 hectoliters
St. Julien – 43,588 hectoliters
Pomerol – 34,850 hectoliters
As of 2013, in terms of volume, China jumped to the top of the pyramid for buying Bordeaux wine as they imported close to 532,000 hectoliters. As a point of comparison, The United States of America imported 159,000 hectoliters. However those figures are misleading, because while China brought in more wine in term of volume, America probably imported more wine in dollar value. China is however, the current purchaser of Bordeaux wine at the high end, for wines like Chateau Lafite Rothschild and now Petrus, but they are also the largest buyer of generic, low end Bordeaux wine as well.
It is believed that England is perhaps the largest importer of Bordeaux wine as they import close to 227,000 hectoliters of Bordeaux wine each year. But as much of the wine sold to England is resold to other countries, it is difficult to know where all the wine is going. The majority of the top Bordeaux wines and Classified Growths are sold though the negociant system on the Place de Bordeaux.