By Lisa Rowlands

The beautiful town of Bourg, at the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, gives its name to this appellation - one of the region’s oldest. Established in 1920, with decrees confirming its AOC status signed in 1936 (for red wines) and 1945 (white wines), Côtes de Bourg enjoys a favourable microclimate and a varied soil composition of sand, clay, limestone and gravel. On account of its unique topography - atypically hilly for the Bordeaux region - the area is sometimes referred to as ‘Little Switzerland’.

The Merlot variety is the appellation’s principal red grape, accounting for 65% of all plantings. This is followed by Cabernet Sauvignon with 20%, Malbec with 10% (its largest share of any Bordeaux AOC) and Cabernet Franc with 5%. Of the tiny fraction of vineyard dedicated to white varieties, Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, Sémillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris share the vine, with the former three grapes accounting for more than 85% of the approximately thirty hectares.

The vast majority of the wine produced within the Côtes de Bourg appellation - which totals around 180,000 hectolitres of red and 1,200 hectolitres of white - is sold within the national boundary although exports are continually rising as wine-makers increase their commercial focus in order to compete with the prestigious neighbouring appellations.