France has more wine regions than you can shake a bottle of Champagne at, but the Bordeaux region has long produced some of the country’s best wines. This picturesque corner of France is a carpeted with sprawling vineyards and their associated appellations (protected wine growing areas). Whether you’re an oenophile or a casual sipper, award winning wine merchants of distinction, Berry Bros. & Rudd have curated this fantastic guide to Bordeaux wine to get you better acquainted ahead of your next trip.
Bordeaux is known for rich, powerful reds
“Bordeaux’s most notable grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Perhaps the most famous of all, Cabernet Sauvignon is mostly produced in the Medoc region, which encompasses reputed areas like Margaux, Pauillac, St-Julien and St-Estephe.
A Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blend tends to yield wines that combine structure and power, with tannins (textural elements that lend dryness) nuanced by gravelly, smoke scented aromas as well as the ability to age.
Merlot grapes tend to produce rich, opulent and rounded wines. Wines made from a fair amount of Cabernet Franc will reveal notes evoking black truffle with maturity.”
But it produces great white wine too…
“Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes are all grown in Bordeaux. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon yield a dry, crisp and fruity wine style, as well as sweet wines like Sauternes and Barsac. Muscadelle is often used as a blending grape for sweet wines.”
Bordeaux’s climate and soil contribute to the wine’s characteristics
“Bordeaux has an oceanic climate, which means warm (but not scorching) summers and cool (but not freezing) winters. Gravel beds in the Medoc and Graves contribute to the gravelly scent and smoky characteristic found in St Julien, Pessac-Leognan wines. St Emilion sits on a limestone plateau, which lends a mineral character to the wine.
The appellation of Margaux is located on what used to be a swamp in the 17th century. French King Louis XIV commissioned Dutch engineers to implant a draining system, which still exists in many chateaux across the vineyards.”
For newcomers to Bordeaux wine, these are some great tipples to try:
“We would suggest Fronsac & Canon Fronsac; Cotes de Castillon and a satellite area of St-Emilion such as Montagne St Emilion.”
Be adventurous with your wines
“There is nothing more frustrating or boring than only seeking the best and more prestigious Bordeaux chateaux and appellations. There are wines for all occasions at great value for money if you adopt a willingness to explore beyond the most popular wines.”
When buying, look out for quality signifiers
“Check the chateau or property’s history for consistently producing very good wines. Try not to pay too much attention to being influenced by critic’s scores, as they tend to highlight a style of production or trend. Learn, discover and trust your own taste buds.”
Don’t be blinded by labelling
“Bordeaux wines are split into five quality ranks according to the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Some properties ranked five or higher are known to have outclassed their rank, whilst others at a higher level have actually disappointed, or are not up to scratch.”
Has this Berry Bros. & Rudd guide to Bordeaux wine inspired you to visit the region’s vineyards? Click here to discover a wonderful Trafalgar trip.