We know all the important dates that marked Bordeaux wine industry since the twelfth century. On the other hand, we know very little about it before the twelfth century, except that this characteristic wine found its origins in the introduction, in the first century AD, of a new variety, the «&nsp;Biturica » grape variety. This variety, well adapted to the local climate, is the Cabernet’s ancestor.
• 12th century
Bordeaux begins to trade with the British Isles; Aquitaine then belongs to England.
In those days shipping is carried out by means of barrels containing 900 litres; this will become the international unit of volume used to indicate ships’ tonnage.
• 17th century
New customers import wines from Bordeaux. Among them, the Dutch also show an interest for brandy.
In addition to the traditional Clarets, Bordeaux wine growers now provide both dry and sweet white wines intended for distillation.
• 18th century
Drinking fine wines becomes the fashion in London High Society. Exports extend to America.
Also the first corked and sealed bottles replace barrels and casks.
• Mid-19th century
A terrible disease, oidium, strikes at the Bordeaux vineyards.
This calamity is warded off thanks to a sulphating process and now vineyards in the Gironde area know a period of great prosperity.
In 1855, for the first time, part of the vintage from the Gironde département becomes classified.
• End – 19th century
A new disease, phylloxera, lays waste to the vines.
The vineyards are rescued by means of grafting French varieties onto American varieties that are phylloxera resistant. But immediately mildew appears. It will take the discovery of Bordeaux mixture to eradicate it.
• Beginning 20th century
The Gironde growers protect themselves with legislation on the origin of wines.
This will define the boundaries of the various appellations. Thus only the Gironde département is accepted in the Bordeaux wines appellation.
• Since 1936
Wine appellations are subjected to strict production controls : geographical area, grape variety, yield, alcohol content, growing process and vinification.
New classifications are created for Graves and Saint-Emilion. Today, the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée -AOC- that is to say «controlled name of origin») represent 97 % of Bordeaux production.