Cotes de Bordeaux Blaye is the appellation title for Cotes de Bordeaux wines made specifically in the Blaye district of Bordeaux, just across the Gironde from the Medoc. The wines are both red and white (any rose produced here is sold under the generic Bordeaux appellation). Wines once made under the Premieres Cotes de Blaye appellation are now sold under this newer title.
The reds are made predominantly from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, while the whites are produced from an equally traditional Bordelais blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. The less internationally successful varieties Colombard and Ugni Blanc are also permitted in Cotes de Bordeaux Blaye whites, but with the international focus of this appellation these will remain minority components.
The exact blend of each Cotes de Bordeaux Blaye wine depends on several factors: the target market and style of the wine, the existing varieties planted in the vineyards and the precise terroir of those vineyards. Those sites with clay soils, for example, are better suited to Merlot and are able to create softer, suppler wines for early consumption. Those on gravelly soils will favor the Cabernet varieties, which are likely to create more-structured wines with higher tannin levels – wines which will require and reward a few years' cellaring.
The Cotes de Bordeaux appellation was created in 2009 to bring together several 'cotes' of Bordeaux under a single banner – the idea being to improve their marketability and simplify the overall Bordelais appellation structure. Individually, these appellations were struggling to find sufficient marketing resources to combat the increasing popularity of Bordeaux-style wines from emerging wine regions, particularly those in the New World.
The process began officially in 1985, when the presidents of five Cotes appellations founded the Association des Cotes de Bordeaux. This later became Les Cinq Cotes de Bordeaux, as confusion had arisen between this name and that of the entirely separate Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux title. By the end of 2003, the decision had been taken to create the Cotes de Bordeaux appellation, with the geographical denominations Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon and Francs. After another six years of negotiations and red tape, the appellation was confirmed and ratified.