What is Bordeaux?
Bordeaux (pronounced bawr-doh) is one of the largest wine producing regions and home to some of the most iconic wines in the world. If you hear someone refer to Claret, they're talking about Bordeaux wine. The area, in southwest France, is divided by the Gironde River.
The left bank of the river is home to Médoc where wines are made predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot. These wines have blackcurrant fruit, cedar oak flavour, herbal notes and strong tannins. The right bank is where you'll find Merlot-led blends from Appellations such as Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. Here wines are slightly softer with plummy fruit, some oak influence and dry tannins.
The most famous Chateaus may be from these areas, but much of the wine from Bordeaux that we drink is from lesser-known appellations that offer good value for money.
The white wines of Bordeaux are blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon usually aged in barrels. The whites are made in much smaller quantities than the red wines.
Bordeaux also produces a world class sweet wine in the appellation of Sauternes. This wine is made from grapes that have been affected by a fungus called botrytis. This causes the grapes to shrivel and concentrates their sugars resulting in lusciously sweet wines with great complexity and ageing potential.
Key Grape Varieties:
Merlot - wines made with this grape can be a great option for an easy drinking wine. You will find it in lots of wines from Bordeaux, but look to Chile if you’re after something juicy & fruity.
Cabernet Sauvignon - one of the world's most recognised red wine grapes and is grown in a variety of different climates. It tends to produce full bodied wines with high tannins and an acidity which adds to the wine’s aging potential.
Sauvignon Blanc - most likely the UK's favourite grape variety, in cooler areas like Bordeaux, it produces flavours of gooseberry, cut grass and citrus. It becomes more tropical in warmer areas such as Marlborough in New Zealand.
Sémillon - Often paired with Sauvignon Blanc in dry blends in Bordeaux where it adds a bit of lemony fruit, beeswax and chamomile. It becomes the star in the sweet wines.