A red or white wine from Bordeaux, France. Graves is the only Bordeaux region which produces significant quantities of both red and white.

All good Graves wines will be labelled Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée or AOC. Wines which do not carry this label do not meet certain basic production standards and should be avoided.

There are three different Graves appellations:

The basic appellation. Can be used on both red and white wines.
Graves Supérieur
Used only for sweet white wines.
A regional appellation covering roughly a quarter of Graves, encompassing most of the better wine producing regions. Can be used on both red and white wines. This appellation was introduced in 1987 — older wines will carry the basic Graves label.

The Barsac, Cérons and Sauternes regional appellations also lie within Graves geographically, but are usually considered separately.

Graves was covered by the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, although only Château Haut-Brion was included — it is listed as a premier grand cru classée. An extra classification of grand cru classé was awarded to the best thirteen (including Château Haut-Brion) red wine producers in 1953, and to the best eight white wine producers in 1959.

As with all Bordeaux wines, the labels Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur can be used — the latter indicates a slightly higher alcohol level. Some producers choose to omit this mark.

Red Wines

Graves red wines are strong and dry. The principle constituent is cabernet sauvignon, which appears in even higher quantities than in Médoc. Small amounts of cabernet franc and merlot make up the rest of the flavour; petit verdot and malbec are permitted but rarely appear in significant quantities.

A Graves red should be aged for at least five years before drinking. Many wines have far high ageing potentials, with some reaching their peak after fifteen to twenty years.

As with other Bordeaux reds, the wine should be decanted at least an hour before drinking and served at room temperature. It goes well with roast beef, steak or lamb.

Dry White Wines

Dry whites, which tend to be made in the northern part of Graves, are made principally from sauvignon blanc (which must make up at least a quarter of Pessac-Léognans) and sémillon, with muscadelle sometimes being included in small quantities.

These wines should be aged for at least two years before drinking. They should be served at around 10°C, and go well with pork, chicken and less oily fish dishes.

Sweet White Wines

Sweet whites must meet the same composition rules as dry whites; however, muscadelle often plays a more significant part. Most reach their peak after around ten years of ageing; do not try to drink these wines whilst they are still young.

These are mostly dessert wines, but can also be served as an aperitif. They should be chilled to around 5°C. Fans of these wines may also wish to try a Sauternes or Barsac — these are a similar style but are of even better quality.

Graves (?), n. pl.

The sediment of melted tallow. Same as Greaves.


© Webster 1913.

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