The French region of Bordeaux is home to some of the most coveted wines and vineyards on the planet, but how did it get to where it is today?

Well, it’s a long story, but it all started with bits and pieces of evidence that suggest vines existed in the Bordeaux region as early as 379 A.D. It was then that a Latin poet named Ausonius wrote fondly of the wild vines growing around his home, which was presumed to be in Saint-Émilion, which is in close proximity to modern-day Bordeaux.

At the time, much of France was occupied by different tribes, notably the Bituriges in Burdigala (modern day Bordeaux). The area had always been a port town and was well documented as being a heavy commerce area, but there’s no history of wine actually being made in the region’s early days. However, since there were so many phonetic overlaps in these “B” words — including the fact that Cabernet Sauvignon was originally called “Bidure” — many believe that wine cultivation was already underway by the late 4th century.

Regardless, over the next several hundred years, France changed. In the 500s, the Franks took over much of southwestern France under the leadership of King Clovis. After he passed, Covis’s territories were split up among his four sons before Charlemagne eventually took the crown in 771, followed by King Louis VI. Eleanor of Aquitaine entered a brief marriage with Louis’ son before divorcing him and remarrying Henry II of England, allowing England to secure the Bordeaux region. When his son John inherited the throne, he took notice of La Rochelle’s biggest cash crop — wine grapes — and pivoted Bordeaux’s agricultural endeavors from grain to wine production. All the while, the Hundred Years’ War was looming on the horizon.

Back in Season 1 of “Wine 101,” we touched briefly on Bordeaux’s history, but frankly, we barely scratched the surface. This is part one of a series where we dive deep into the history of this region. Through poets and kings, wars and weddings, and from antiquity to the Hundred Years’ War, Bordeaux’s story begins. Tune in for more.

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“Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours truly, Keith Beavers, at the VinePair headquarters in New York City. I want to give a big old shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Big shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the art director of VinePair, for creating the most awesome logo for this podcast. Also, Darby Cicci for the theme song. And I want to thank the entire VinePair staff for helping me learn something new every day. See you next week.

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