Grave in Graves (background image)


in Bordeaux

Wineline Magazine

The name Graves derives from its intensely gravelly soil. The soil is the result of glaciers from the ice age, which also left quartz deposits that can still be found in the soil of the top winemaking estates.

Volume 5 : Graves in Bordeaux

1st in a series on the regions of Bordeaux

Graves (French: [av], gravelly land) is an important subregion of the Bordeaux wine region. Graves is situated on the left bank of the Garonne River, in the upstream part of the region, southeast of the city Bordeaux and stretches over 50 kilometres (31 mi).[1] Graves is the only Bordeaux subregion which is famed for all three of Bordeaux' three main wine types—reds, dry whites and sweet wines—although red wines dominate the total production. Graves AOC is also the name of one Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) which covers most, but not all of the Graves subregion.

The area encompasses villages including Sauternes, Pessac, Talence, Léognan, Martillac, Saint-Morillon, and Portets.

The name Graves derives from its intensely gravelly soil.[2] The soil is the result of glaciers from the Ice Age, which also left white quartz deposits that can still be found in the soil of some of the top winemaking estates.[3]

Graves is considered the birthplace of claret. Graves wine production for export dates back to Eleanor of Aquitaine, who married Henry II, King of England, creating a flourishing trade between both countries: wine versus coal and iron. In the Middle Ages, the wines that were first exported to England were produced in this area. At that time, the Médoc subregion north of the city Bordeaux still consisted of marshland unsuitable for viticulture, while Graves were naturally better-drained.

Château Pape Clément, founded at the turn of the 14th century by the future Pope Clement V, was the first named chateau in all of Bordeaux. In 1663, Samuel Pepys' mention of Château Haut-Brion was the first recorded mention of French claret in London.[1]

After Médoc was drained by the Dutch in mid-17th century, Médoc gradually took over the role as the source of the most prized Bordeaux wines. In the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, only one Graves property, Château Haut-Brion, one of the four original First growths, was included among the red wines, with all the rest being Médoc properties. All the sweet wines of the 1855 classification were from Sauternes, which is a part of Graves.

A classification of Graves wine was carried out in 1953 for its red wine producers. Dry white wines were included in an updated 1959 classification.[4] In 1987, the part of Graves containing most of the producers of its most expensive wines, closest to the city Bordeaux itself, created a separate AOC under the name Pessac-Léognan. This has had the effect of devaluing the name and price of wines simply labeled with the Graves appellation.

As with Médoc, Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant grape, but a somewhat greater proportion of Merlot is typically used in the blend, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The dry white wines are a blend of Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon.

A well-known sweet white dessert wine is made in the commune of Sauternes, which is located in the southeast corner of the Graves region.

Graves AOC

Graves AOC is the basic appellation of the Graves subregion, and can be used for both red and dry white wine. 3,100 hectares (7,700 acres) of vineyards were dedicated to this appellation in 2004.

Graves Supérieures AOC

Graves Superieur AOC is an appellation for sweet white wine covering the same area as Graves AOC. The wines are generally considered as simpler than those of Cérons AOC. About 500 hectares (1,200 acres) of vineyards were dedicated to the production of Graves Supérieures in 2004.

Pessac-Léognan AOC

This part of the Graves, located just south of the city of Bordeaux, is home to the first growth estate Château Haut-Brion, as well as all the 1953 classified Graves Growths, including Château La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Laville Haut-Brion. In addition to wine production, the area is known for its crops of pine trees, and vineyards are often separated by rows of forest trees.[5] The soil of Pessac-Léognan is composed of gravel terraces with sediments from different geological eras.

Pessac-Léognan received appellation status in 1987, and produces both red and white wines.[5] All of the estates named in the 1959 Graves classification are located in this appellation.[1] Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant grape variety, followed by Merlot and the white wine grapes Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon. The white wines of this area are barrel fermented and aged on their lees.

Sauternes AOC and Barsac AOC

Sauternes is an appellation of Graves known for its intensely sweet, white, dessert wines such as the Premier Cru Supérieur classified Château d'Yquem.

Wines produced in the commune of Barsac, such as Premiers Crus Château Climens and Château Coutet, are allowed to be labeled either with the commune name (as Barsac AOC) or with Sauternes. The intense sweetness is the result of the grapes being affected by Botrytis cinerea, a fungus commonly known as noble rot. In the autumn, the Ciron river produces mist that descends upon the area and persists until after dawn. These conditions are conducive to the growth of the fungus, which desiccates the grape and concentrates the sugars inside. The three main grapes are of this are Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle.

Thanks to Wikipedia for this technical information on Graves.

Chateau Crabitey Graves

Chateau Crabitey is located in Graves, Bordeaux. The owner and winemaker Arnaud de Butler talks about the history of the Chateau with Robert & Mary Scott directors of WinelineMedia. Then, we taste the excellent 2015 vintage and look forward to the 2018 and 2019 vintages, which all indications predict an outstanding wines.

Tasting of the 2019 vintage top right.

Fourault Company Logo
A view of the approach to Chateau Crabitey in Graves
A view of the vineyards of Chateau Crabitey in Graves

A view of the approach to Chateau Crabitey in Graves

A view of the vineyards of Chateau Crabitey in Graves

Abandoning the world of finance and Paris, Arnaud de Butler has made his home among the vineyards of Bordeaux. After thorough training in viticulture, he took up the reins of Château Crabitey from his father. The first vintages he produced were revelations, winning one award after another. This Graves takes him up another rung in his well-deserved ascension.

Owner of Chateau Crabitey
Chateau Crabitey Collage
Wineline media logo

Studio: 507 S. Phelps Avenue • Winter Park, FL 32789 USA

+1 407.758.9931 •

Wineline Magazine is a wholly owned subsidary of Juris Corporation / Winter Park, FL 32789  /  +1 (407) 758-9931



Featured Winery: Chateau Crabitey

A tasting of the excellent 2019 Chateau Crabitey Rouge in Graves in Bordeaux

Sales information: +33 (0) 5567 52 20 52       

Click here for email