Today, many families have a holiday home in the region, and increasing numbers of people from abroad retire here, particularly from Britain and the Netherlands. Vines grow on the slopes and hilltops along the river; the vineyard consists of thirty-seven communes whose bell towers seem to mark the borders of the area.

Until recently, the northern part of this region was especially well- known and appreciated for its red wine production, while the southern part, whose microclimate aids the production of sweet white wines, was known for its whites. Both the reds and whites were noted for their quality, the result of a favored terroir. They also benefited from their proximity to the city of Bordeaux and its policy of protectionism which lasted from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century these wines were sought out for their ability to travel without deteriorating. Red wines of the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux are generally richly colored, well structured, and quite full-bodied. A high proportion of Merlot gives them roundness and supple tannins,- the freshness of their fruit can be enjoyed when they are drunk young. Thanks to their solid structure, however, they express more delicacy and generosity as they age.

The white wines are sweet and can sometimes even be syrupy, when they are produced in the communes defined by the Cadillac AOC They are remarkable for their body and finesse. Produced mainly with Semillon grapes, which gives them flavors of toast and candied fruits, these are fat, generous wines. The name of the commune where the grapes were grown can legally be added to the Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux AOC. However, it is worth noting that in practice this is never done.

There are many worthwhile, enterprising estates in the Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux. Among the best-known of these are Chateaux Reynon, de Birot, Nenine, du Grand Moueys, de Marsan, de Plassan, de Haux, and de Manos.



Priaaeur Bordeaux WineThe primeur (young) wine market plays two essential roles in the Bordeaux wine trade. It is an important means of discovering the quality of the new wine, but above all, for classified growths and other sought-after wines, it covers the financial cost of storing the most recent vintage for an eighteen to twenty-four-month maturation period.

This trade is, by nature, mainly professional: growers negotiate with merchants, using brokers as middle-men. The wines then become available to the public through retailers and a few specialized wine merchants. The first stage determines the demand for that vintage and is a good way of predicting its success on the national and international wine markets.

Those who buy wine en primeur are gambling on its increase in value. Two factors come into play: the quality of future vintages and the international demand. Though the demand can be predicted with some accuracy, no-one can foresee the quality of the forthcoming vintage. In this sense, future vintages remain enigmatic. One thing is certain, though: in real terms, winelovers rarely lose money by regularly investing in the latest vintage.