Known as the French wine capital, the region of Bordeaux is particularly famous for ageworthy red wines produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Bordeaux’s positioning close to the Atlantic ocean gives the region a moderate, maritime climate, with the Gironde estuary dividing the appellation’s vineyards into a left and right bank. Gravelly soils dominate the left bank, where Cabernet Sauvignon’s thick skins ripen successfully to reveal flavours of blackcurrant and cedar. The most famous areas include Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux, all famed for their elegant yet structured styles.
On the opposite side of the estuary, the right bank’s clay based terroir is much more suited to earlier ripening grape Merlot, producing a softer style of wine with notes of plum and blackberry. Notable villages include St Emilion and Pomerol, celebrated for their concentration of fruit flavour and approachability in youth.
Although single varietal wines exist, it is much more typical for claret to be a blend of grapes as a way to produce the very best wine in humid, dampy growing conditions.
Further south and past the city of Bordeaux itself, lie the appellations of Graves and Pessac-Leognan where excellent red and dry white wines are produced, the latter from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion. The dry white styles are crisp and refreshing, with aromas of lemon and apple that can develop into nutty and toasty expressions with some bottle age.
The jewel in Bordeaux’s crown, however, is further south in the appellation of Sauternes, where lusciously sweet wines are made from botrytised grapes. With so many different styles produced, it isn’t surprising that wines from Bordeaux have such a legacy.