This page is a guide to what wine grapes are used in the production of red Bordeaux wine. Bordeaux wine gains its unique character and flavor profile from a combination of the grapes planted in the vineyards, the terroir and soil of Bordeaux, climate and the choices made by the wine maker. But it all starts in the vineyard with Bordeaux wine grapes.
First off, it’s important to note that a large part of what makes Bordeaux wine great, is that 99% of all the top wines are produced from blends of different grape varieties. Even though the Bordeaux wine being made today bears little resemblance to the wines produced in the region when the 1855 Classification took place for much of the appellation, the best wines of Bordeaux have always been produced using a blend of different grapes. It’s the whole of its parts that comes from blending grape varieties that creates the magic tasted in Bordeaux wine. There are a few stunning 100% Merlot wines from Pomerol and St. Emilion , but the vast majority of the time, Merlot, due to its rich, opulent textures is the perfect pairing for blending with the more tannic, firmer Cabernet Sauvignon grape.
Keep in mind, the terroir and climate in Bordeaux is much different than you find in California , so while wines from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon are sublime from regions like Napa Valley, on its own, Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the gravelly terroir of Bordeaux is too hard and austere. But when blending with other grapes, the wine gains in complexity in the nose and more importantly, the textures and mouth feel of the wine at its best develops elegance and opulence and silky, velvet textures. While Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are unarguably the two most important grapes used in Bordeaux blends, you can also find varying amounts of Cabernet Franc , Petit Verdot and Malbec in the blends. (Source)
In 1855, 61 Chateaux were classified into the top five “Growths" out of over 3,000 Bordeaux growers. 60 crus from the Médoc and 1 cru from Pessac-Léognan. This classification system remains today, unchanged since 1973; currently there are Five 1er Crus, Fifteen 2ème Crus, Fourteen 3ème Crus, Ten 4ème Crus, Eighteen 5ème Crus.