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Out of all the wines that have ever existed, the region of Bordeaux France produces some of the most popular and widely acclaimed wines in the whole world. The secret to the success of these wines is a story that spans multiple empires and hundreds of years. If it were not for the Romans, Dutch, and Americans, these Bordeaux wines would have been lost to history forever. Luckily for us, wine lovers have been working throughout history to ensure that the Bordeaux wines have prospered and been preserved for future generations.
The first known Bordeaux vineyards were owned by the Ancient Romans. The Romans found that the area in and around Bordeaux, France had the perfect growing conditions for vineyards. The region also served as a convenient trading route, which the Romans used to spread their Bordeaux wines far and wide. By 1152, Bordeaux wine had become so popular that it was served at the wedding for King Henry II. As Bordeaux’s wines grew in popularity, so did the areas and regions for transporting the bottles. The Dutch realized that they would need to find quicker ways to transport the wine if they were to distribute it to far-flung places. The wines produced back then only lasted for a year, so the Dutch figured out how to build roads throughout Bordeaux to ensure quicker transportation. As the popularity of Bordeaux wines grew, the vineyards had to expand to keep up with demand. Areas that were had been previously considered unusable, due to the swampy conditions, were converted into arable farmland. This region of Bordeaux, called “Medoc,” went on to produce some of the finest wine!
When tensions between the French and English started during the 18th century, France began to restrict the movements of this prized wine. During this time more vineyards were created, and by 1725, Bordeaux had to be sectioned out to keep track of all the vineyards. In the 19th-century, however, disaster struck the region of Bordeaux. Mold, rot, and the Phylloxera infestation all occurred within this time period. The Phylloxera infestation was the worst of all these misfortunes. During the Phylloxera infestation, a plague of insects came and ravaged the vineyards. Most of the vineyards were lost during this infestation, and the Bordeaux wines almost disappeared into history.
Luckily in America, the rootstock was discovered as a solution. The rootstock, which was a stem with well-developed roots, would have grapevines grafted on them. This rootstock process deterred insects from ravaging the vineyards. Certain grapes favored better for grafting to the rootstock than others. Cabernet France, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes grew best and are now known as the main grapes for Bordeaux wines. Unfortunately, the Malbec and Petit vineyards that were thriving did not graft well with the American rootstock technique and soon faded from prominence.
World Wars and Depressions caused bigger hits to the Bordeaux region, but by 1945, a long bout of good weather caused the vineyards to flourish again. With the help of an American wine writer Robert Parker, life was brought back into the market by praising Bordeaux wines in one of his writings in the 1980s. Since then, Bordeaux wines have been some of the world’s most famous wines and are regularly sought-after by wine collectors and enthusiasts today.