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Wine Region: Bordeaux
23 May, 2016


You can always find a picture-perfect chateau in Bordeaux.

Bordeaux is probably the most well-known wine region in France.

It’s geographical position in France fueled much of its early growth. Bordeaux is essentially connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Gironde river. Commerce has been pulsing through the veins of the Bordeaux port for centuries. One of the most notable trades in the port is the selling of wine. In the early days, the Atlantic Ocean connected Bordeaux with England (its biggest wine client) just nicely.

To a wine drinker, what you can appreciate is the diversity of wines that come from Bordeaux. We can get a good feel for this by dividing Bordeaux into 3 main areas, the Left Bank (left of the Gironde river), the Right Bank (right of the Gironde), and the South (Graves).

bordeaux map

Because of soil and climate differences, the wines produced on both the left and right bank taste different. The clay soils on the right bank favour the growth of the Merlot grape. Whereas, the harder and less porous soil on the left bank favours the Cabernet Sauvignon grape.

Hence, left bank Chateaux tend to use a higher concentration of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in their wines compared to Merlot. This is the opposite for right bank Chateaux where they tend to use more Merlot compared to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Besides Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, winemakers from both sides of the river use other grapes like Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are used in small quantities as well.

Interesting to note is that both the left bank and right bank have their own wine ranking systems. The Left Bank has a ranking system, called the 1855 classification system. The Right Bank on the other hand has its own ranking system starting in 1954 called the Saint-Emilion classification system.

You may have drank a lot of Bordeaux red wines but the region is also well-known for its white wines. The specific place that produces the majority of Bordeaux white wines is the sub-region called Pessac Leognan. The white wines in this area are made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. They are also usually oaked in barrels to achieve a higher level of complexity.

Sauternes, another famous sub-region in Bordeaux produces many of the French sweet wines. Chateau d’Yquem is the most famous sweet wine maker in Sauternes.


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