Graves de Vayres AOC is a small appellation on the right bank of the Bordeaux region and comprising the two communes of Arveyres and Vayres. They lie either side of the RN 89 road, on the south (or left bank) of the Dordogne (Libourne lies opposite), where the river makes its last great loop before flowing into the Gironde. The Graves de Vayres name was used in the 19th-century, but the AOC dates only from 1931, and was originally for off-dry (demi-sec) or sweet (sec) white wines. Today, red wines are also permitted. Graves de Vayres takes its name from its gravel-rich soils but is not to be confused with the much larger Graves AOC region on Bordeaux’s left bank. And as David Peppercorn MW (1991, p.569) points out that ‘the commercial advantage of being confused with the Graves district south of Bordeaux does not seem to have brought the area any notable réclame [acclaim, attenttion].’
Vineyard area & wine production: 2002 The total planted vineyard area of the two communes was 490ha of red and 110ha of white, most being bottled as Bordeaux AOC, with only 30,815hl as Graves de Vayres of which 5,224hl was white (Guide Hachette des Vins 2004, p.317). | 2013 312 hectares (770 acres) of which 67 hectares (166 acres) was white (Oxford Companion 2015). | 2002 631 hectares (1,559 acres) overall, of which 536 hectares (1,324 acres) produced 25,591 hl of Graves de Vayres Rouge and 95 hectares (235 acres) produced 5,224 hl of Graves de Vayres Blanc. | 1995 250 hectares (617 acres) of Graves de Vayres Blanc and 400+hectares (988+ acres) of Graves de Vayres Rouge.
Terroir: Gravelly sand terraces which rise 25 metres (82 feet) above the Dordogne, with significant clay deposits beneath. The gravel in Graves de Vayres is geologically younger, less deep and sandier than the (Günz) gravel in the Médoc, Graves, and Pessac-Léognan regions, hence the court case when the AC was granted, above.
Viticulture: The minimum vine density is 4,200 vines per hectare (1,700 vines per acre). Vine densities were reduced when wage costs started increasing. On teh gravel soils deep rooting rootstocks like Castel 196/17 and Richter 110 (V. berlandieri x V. rupestris) are preferred.
Graves de Vayres Blanc: From Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Merlot Blanc was also authorised (up to 30%) until the 1970s. Graves de Vayres Blanc must be dry. Theoretically it is a step above the run-of-the-mill Bordeaux Blanc or Entre-Deux-Mers without the richnesss or finesse of a Graves Blanc.
Graves de Vayres Rosé: Not permitted.
Graves de Vayres Rouge: Graves de Vayres Rouge is theoretically a step above the run-of-the-mill Bordeaux Supérieur without the richnesss or finesse of Graves Rouge. Made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2015, p337.