Situated on the north bank of the Garonne river, and in close proximity to various other river systems, Cadillac’s location is a huge factor in its success. Enjoying a favourable oceanic climate, and blessed with lime-rich, gravelly soils, a sunny, south-facing aspect and steep, quick-draining slopes, the terroir of Cadillac is capable of producing sweet wines that are steeped in character.
Early morning mist and humidity is a key feature of the microclimate here, and as it gives way to drier air during the day, it creates the perfect conditions for the development of Botrytis Cinerea (noble rot). The effects of this microscopic fungus causes the natural concentration of sugar and flavour compounds in the grapes, and thus plays a pivotal role in the production of sweet / dessert wines.
Sémillon is the dominant grape variety in Cadillac’s vineyards, accounting for around 70% of the vine with the remaining 30% comprised of the other traditional Bordeaux whites - Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. The majority of wines produced here are a blend of two or more of these varieties, but there are also some notable mono-varietal wines from the Sémillon grape.
Perhaps always destined to be in the shadow of the highly acclaimed Sauternes appellation, the wine-makers of Cadillac nonetheless produce elegant wines with a mix of floral / fruit aromas, a golden yellow robe and good ageing potential. Grapes are harvested by hand only when they have reached full ripeness, yields are deliberately restricted to maintain a quality focus and vinification is a lengthly, meticulously managed process that results in smooth, well structured wines which are bottled at the châteaux. Appellation rules dictate that before harvesting, the grapes must contain a minimum of 255 g/L of natural sugar and that the residual sugars after fermentation are equal to or greater than 51 g/L. The finished wines must also have a minimum alcohol content of 12%.
As well as the town of Cadillac itself, the appellation’s one hundred and thirty-nine hectares cover the wines made in Baurech, Beguey, Capian, Cardan, Donzac, Tabanac, Le Tourne, Verdelais and Villenave-de-Rions. Red wines made in the same area are sold under the label ‘Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux AOC’.