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.
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
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
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.