A Guide to Bordeaux: The Famous French Wine Region
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or not, chances are you’ve heard of Bordeaux wine. Bordeaux wine refers to vino hailing from what’s inarguably the world’s most famous wine region: Bordeaux, a port city in southwestern France.
This month here at The Straits Wine company, we’re going Big on Bordeaux with our special promotion: 20% off selected bottles of Bordeaux wine. From affordable options like the F. Thienpont Bordeaux Rouge 2016 ($31.20, U.P. $39) to more decadent picks such as the Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 2018 ($300, U.P. $375), we’ve got you covered with over 100 choices and you’ll be contributing to the impressive statistic of 20 bottles of Bordeaux wine being sold around the world every second (that’s one of our fun facts of the day for you). For more irresistible deals, follow us on @straitswinecompany on Instagram and Facebook.
THE HISTORY OF BORDEAUX WINE
In Bordeaux, grapes have been grown there for nearly 2,000 years. Taking a look at the region’s deep history, it’s believed that grapes were planted in this region as early as 43 BCE, when the Romans were around. From the 10th century, Bordeaux was run by the Dukes of Aquitaine under British Rule, and this opened up opportunities for exporting Bordeaux wine to England, and eventually, the world.
THE BORDEAUX REGION
The name Bordeaux comes from the French “au bord de l’eau”, which translates to “along the waters”. This reinforces the key thing to know about French wines in general (which, of course, includes Bordeaux wine): they’re labelled by region, not by grape. This means you have to learn which grapes are the most common across the different regions of France in order to know what you’re drinking!
Bordeaux has six distinct regions: Bordeaux, Médoc, Graves and Sauternes, Blaye and Bourg, Saint-Emilion Pomerol and Fronsac, Entre-Deux-Mers, and each has their own unique history, features, and wine. All regions are located along and around the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, both of which meet north of the city of Bordeaux and form the Gironde Estuary; this has led to the creation of the concept of “left bank” and “right bank” in Bordeaux – something that helps wine enthusiasts distinguish and classify Bordeaux wines.
It may seem like a lot to absorb, but a quick “cheat sheet” is to remember that Left Bank wines are usually blends, with Cabernet Sauvignon being the most common, and Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec being other varieties that you can easily find. On the Right Bank, the wines are usually Merlot-based, and these days, grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot are used as blending components.
THE WINES OF BORDEAUX
Wines from Bordeaux are typically red. They are often medium- to full-bodied, have aromas of blackcurrant and plum and savoury, dry tasting notes of spices and dark fruit. However, many don’t know that some white wine options also come from Bordeaux, particularly regions like Entre-Deux-Mers and places such as Pessac-Leognan. Typically, these wines are made with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and have tasting notes that range from clean and fresh to creamy and zesty.
Now that you know the basics of Bordeaux wine, why not get yourself a bottle or two? For Left Bank labels, our picks include the full-bodied Château Lascombes 2009 2nd GCC ($203.20, U.P. $254) – which has a rugged, chewy frame – as well as Château Sociando Mallet 2012 ($88.80, U.P. $111), which features a complex bouquet dominated by black fruit aromas and with a touch of elegant oak. Our Right Bank vote goes to Château Cheval-Blanc 2006 ($1,278.40, U.P. $1,598) – known for tasting notes akin to an explosion of crushed violets and potpourri, hints of leather and cigar box.