AskDefine | Define graves

Dictionary Definition

Graves n : English writer known for his interest in mythology and in the classics (1895-1985) [syn: Robert Graves, Robert Ranke Graves]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Graves



  1. Plural of grave



  1. Form of Second-person singular present subjunctive, graver

Extensive Definition

Graves (, meaning 'gravelly land' in French) is an important subregion of the Bordeaux wine region. Graves is situated on the left bank of the Garonne river, in the upstream part of the region, southeast of the city Bordeaux and stretch over . Graves is the only Bordeaux subregion which is famed for all three of Bordeaux' three main wine types - reds, dry whites and sweet wines - although red wines dominate the total production. Graves AOC is also the name of one Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) which covers most, but not all of the Graves sub-region.
The area encompasses villages including Sauternes, Pessac, Talence, Léognan, Martillac, Saint-Morillon, and Portets.
The name Graves derives from its intensely gravelly soil. The soil is the result glaciers from the Ice Age which also left white quartz deposits that can still be found in the soil of the some of the top wine making estates.


The Graves is considered the birthplace of claret. Graves wine production for export dates back to Eleanor of Aquitaine, who married Henry II, King of England, creating a flourishing trade between both countries : wine versus coal and iron. In the Middle Ages, the wines that were first exported to England were produced in this area. At that time, the Médoc subregion north of the city Bordeaux still consisted of marshland unsuitable for viticulture, while Graves were naturally better drained.
Château Pape Clément, founded at the turn of the fourteenth century by the future Pope Clement V, was the first named chateaux in all of Bordeaux. In 1663, Samuel Pepys' mention of Château Haut-Brion was the first recorded mention of French Claret in London. In 1987 the part of Graves containing most of the producers of its most expensive wines, closest to the city Bordeaux itself, created a separate AOC under the name Pessac-Léognan. This has had the effect of devaluing the name and price of wines simply labeled with the Graves appellation.

Wine styles

The sub-region's red wines are generally considered to be more robust than those of Médoc, and are made using a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The dry white wines are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
A well known sweet white dessert wine is made in the commune of Sauternes which is located in the southeast corner of the Graves region.

Appellations in Graves

The Graves subregion contains the following Appellation d'origine contrôlées (AOCs).

Graves AOC

Graves AOC is the basic appellation of the Graves subregion and can be used for both red and dry white wine. of vineyards were dedicated to this appellation in 2004. The soil of Pessac-Léognan is composed of gravel terraces with sediments from different geological eras.
Production costs for this area's botrytized wines are comparatively high. The evaporation and fungus affections produces low yields, five to six times less then in other Bordeaux regions. The berries are normally harvested individually from the bunch with pickers going through the vineyards several times between September and November to ensure that the berries are picked at their optimal points. The wine is then fermented in small oak barrels, further adding to the cost. Even with half bottles of the First Growths priced at several hundred dollars, these wines still have difficulties turning a profit and in the mid 20th century a string of bad vintages drove many growers in the region out of business.

Cérons AOC

Cérons AOC is an appellation for sweet white wines of similar style as Sauternes, but with no producers as noted as the classified Sauternes properties and therefore with lower prices. On the other hand, the wines are considered superior to those of Graves Supérieures AOC which Cérons effectively is an enclave of.


See also

graves in Cebuano: Graves
graves in German: Graves
graves in French: Vignoble des Graves
graves in Finnish: Graves
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