• Three other varieties, known as “auxiliary” grapes, are far less common: malbec (also known as côt, pressac, or auxerrois), petit verdot and carmenère. They are generally present in blending in small proportions.
White grape varieties
• Sémillon (about 7,300 hectares) is a much appreciated variety that is well rooted in the Gironde, particularly in zones where sweet white wines are produced — there, sémillon wines are golden-colored, delicate, rich and extremely smooth. To dry white wines, it brings aromatic elegance and smoothness, with notes of apricot, acacia blossoms and almond. When it is enhanced by noble rot (Botrytis cinerea, see “Sweet Bordeaux” on page 67), it develops very special fragrances (candied fruits, dried fruits). It is the major variety in liquoreux and moelleux wines, and dominates in Sauternes plantings. It is used as a minor component of dry whites.
• Sauvignon blanc (about 5,500 hectares) is the major reference for the production of dry white wines. Giving an excellent expression of terroir, it brings plenty of liveliness, minerality, good acidity and aromatic potential. It produces pale yellow-colored dry white wines with a powerful, fruity bouquet, with notes of citrus, box tree, fig leaf, and sometimes a slight smoky note. More or less a minority variety in moelleux and liquoreux wines, it is dominant in dry whites.
• Muscadelle (about 870 hectares) has a predilection for clay soils where it is less vulnerable to rot than in shallow, well drained soils. Wines made from it are very aromatic, round and slightly musky, with low acidity and powerful, floral notes. It is frequently used in small proportion in moelleux and liquoreux Bordeaux blends.
• Like the reds, white wines also have their auxiliary varieties colombard, merlot blanc, sauvignon gris and ugni blanc.