Ah! Bordeaux. A region we are all familiar with. There is a lot to know when it comes to this expansive French winemaking region. So buckle up, because we are going to talk about all things Bordeaux. Bordeaux has a long, complicated and interesting history that is reflected in the wonderful diverse wines produced in its subregions — and, of course, its famed châteaux.
At first glance, Bordeaux may seem like a rather complicated place to understand. If we hear phrases like: "Left Bank", "Right Bank", "Bordeaux Blend", "Official Bordeaux Classification" among others, it is quite understandable to feel a little overwhelmed when trying to buy Bordeaux wine.
Let's take away the complication (but not the greatness!) of this French region. Let's start with the most relevant information you have to know about Bordeaux so that the next time you want to buy wine from this region, you will know which wines are of interest to you!
Located in the southwest of France, this port city is the sixth most important in the whole country. The Garonne River crosses and divides the city, it is from this division that the appellations and Banks of Bordeaux are classified as "Left Bank" and "Right Bank". The Garonne River begins in the Pyrenees, in Spain and when it reaches Bordeaux it meets the Dordogne River, together forming the Gironde estuary. The estates located closer to rivers tend to produce the most expensive and world-renowned wines, which are generally those included in the Official Bordeaux Classification of 1855.
Grapes & Bordeaux Blend
As in all the Old World, each appellation is allowed to plant only certain grapes. The perfect combination of Bordeaux's climate and soil nurtures certain grape varieties. For this reason, French laws specify which grape varieties a winemaker can use to be able to call their wine, 'Bordeaux Wine'.
The grapes allowed in Bordeaux are:
- White: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, and some other less common.
- Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere.
Today, the famous "Bordeaux Blend" includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot; the grapes and percentages will vary depending on which appellation they are located.
Right Bank Vs. Left Bank
To fully understand Bordeaux wines, it is necessary to explain them according to their location or Bank:
- Left Bank: Located west of the Garonne River, the main variety planted in this region is Cabernet Sauvignon. This margin has two main sub-regions for the production of red wine: Médoc and Graves. Within the Médoc, the most important appellations are Margaux, Pauillac, St. Estèphe and St. Julien. Within Graves, the most recognized appellation is Pessac-Léognan, and Sauternes.
- Right Bank: Located east of the Gironde River and northeast of the Dordogne River, the Right Bank is planted primarily to Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The top wines of this region are those from the Pomerol and Saint-Emilion appellations.
The Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855
It is a system to classify the best producers and wines of this famous region according to their quality, reputation and price. This classification is divided into 5 “Crus” of 5 Growths, and all the Châteaux that belong to this list are located on the Left Bank. The First Growths include: Château Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac, Château Margaux in Margaux, Château Latour in Pauillac, Château Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan and Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac.
Bordeaux Around the World
It is well known that Bordeaux is an extremely coveted region to all wine lovers. A fun fact, throughout the world, 18 bottles of Bordeaux wine are sold every 2 seconds.
Wine from the Bordeaux region can sometimes seem "unattainable". It is true that there are examples of wines from different Châteaux that can exceed 4 digit prices. But it is also true that Bordeaux has great wines for a much lower price.
In fact, the average price of a Bordeaux wine found in the US is $20. And let me tell you, dear wine lover, there are plenty of incredible wines that can deliver so much!
The reality is that the world perceives Bordeaux wine as "expensive" "traditional" "unreachable" because initially, only the most expensive Bordeaux wines were those that were exported to the rest of the world. Every year, Bordeaux exports more and more wine, and thanks to this, today we can get excellent wines at excellent values. Nowadays you can buy excellent Bordeaux wines without it having to cost you an arm and a leg!
Big Hammer Wines is your perfect ally. We want to help you discover the wonderful world of Bordeaux. We are wine experts, and we taste too many Bordeaux wines so you don't have to worry about it. And with this, we bring the best deals especially for you!
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