Sophisticated, balanced, and finely aged: the quintessential red blend is the Bordeaux. While you’ll find many original red blends from winery to winery, the best known representation comes from the Bordeaux region of France.
The region of Bordeaux has seen the rise and fall of empires, shifting politically and geographically into the carefully protected wine region we know and love today. Bordeaux is split into several key locations famed for unique approaches to red wine, such as the red wine-focused Médoc and the highly varied Graves.
How is Bordeaux priced? Is it worth adding a few bottles to your wine rack? Let’s explore this legendarily complex red blend and how it’ll change the way you look at wine forever.
The Origin of Bordeaux
Following the origin of Bordeaux is quite easy: just follow the name! This red blend was coined in Bordeaux, France all the way back to the Roman Empire.
Bordeaux wine would see a dramatic surge in popularity over the following centuries, most notably during the reign of the Angevin Empire in England.
Passing hands through Dutch wine traders and absorbing influence from French allies, Bordeaux is the very definition of a transformative wine. Its staying power is legendary the world over and is, quite literally, the history you can taste.
A major reason why Bordeaux wine is so consistently flavorful and complex is due to the ideal growing conditions of the region.
The calcium-heavy soil, proximity to nearby rivers, and temperate climate create delectable yields that result in award-winning wines.
What Kind of Wine is Bordeaux?
Bordeaux wine is classified as red wine, as this specific blend can only be made with red wine grapes. The majority of Bordeaux wine is made with predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes since both grapes originate in Bordeaux.
That said, you’ll also see Bordeaux made with Cabernet Franc, the parent grape of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Occasionally winemakers will mix in a little Petit Verdot, Carménère, or Malbec, though often in small percentages so the primary wine grapes can take center stage.
While Bordeaux wine can shift these percentages around, the standard mixture for a classic Châteaux Bordeaux Blend is:
- 70% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 15% Merlot
- 15% Cabernet Franc
Bordeaux is further classified into different categories based on the regions where they’re grown, such as the Red Bordeaux Supérieur from the green and hilly Entre-Deux-Mers.
While these regions stick to using the aforementioned red grapes, different Bordeaux wine varieties still have blend percentages, unique winemaking, and harvesting techniques.
Bordeaux is a Famed Red Blend
You can’t go wrong with a sumptuous glass of Bordeaux. These blends are designed to bring out the best of all worlds in one brilliant bottle.
Red blends are often more balanced than single varieties. If you find Cabernet Sauvignon too dry or Malbec too smoky, try a Bordeaux on for size.
This Wine Recipe Only Allows Certain Grapes
As stated above, Bordeaux is a very specific red blend that only allows certain grapes. The average Bordeaux will mix Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
Some Bordeaux blends will also sprinkle in Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carménère.
Expect a Sweetness Ranging From Mild to Moderate
What does Bordeaux wine taste like, anyway? While each regional variation will have subtle differences, these complex blends usually burst at the seams with dark fruit and earthy notes.
The range of dominant flavors you can expect from a Bordeaux wine are:
- Dark plums
- Black currant
- Black cherry
Bordeaux wine contains several highly subtle flavor notes that must be tasted to be believed. You might get hints of the following in the aftertaste:
Likewise, Bordeaux wines often have a slightly mineral kick such as:
This Wine is Famously Dry and High in Tannins
If you’re looking for a wine that puckers your cheeks, Bordeaux varieties are ready to meet you halfway. These blends are famous for being high in tannins, making them dry and a touch tingly.
Bordeaux Has a Serious Price Range
Unlike Malbec or Pinot Grigio, Bordeaux wine blends come in a serious price range. Due to their high tannin and acidity count, these wines can be aged for several decades.
The prestige of the Bordeaux regions adds another layer of complexity to the price point.
Best Food Pairings With Bordeaux
Already wondering which foods to pair with your Bordeaux wine bottle? The prestige of this red blend may be daunting, but remember there’s no wrong way to drink wine. Just better and worse.
Food pairings bring out key characteristics in your wine that you may not catch alone.
Duck Based Dishes
Are you a fan of duck? Bordeaux is commonly paired with duck-based dishes due to the higher fat content and more savory flavor.
Rack of Lamb
If you want an even more savory dish, a rack of lamb will make your glass of Bordeaux sing. The roasted and spiced flavor will push the Bordeaux’s fruit-forward nature to its fullest potential.
Bordeaux straddles a fine line between a dinner wine and a dessert wine. While far from sugary, the subtle, fruity sweetness of your glass will add a delectable contrast with the bitterness of dark chocolate.
How to Bring Out the Best in Your Bordeaux
Your Bordeaux is a labor of love. Winemakers have to carefully tend their vines and protect them from all sorts of ailments such as droughts, rot, mold, pests, and wildfires.
Bringing out your Bordeaux’s best honors their hard work and exposes you to a fuller range of flavors. Try these tips on for size once you hone in on the bottle you want.
Be Patient and Decant Your Wine
The function of decanting is to bring out the full flavor, aroma, and complexity of your wine. While it’s difficult to add another half hour before drinking, you’ll be glad you took the time.
Decanting works by separating the leftover sediment from the winemaking process and exposing your wine to air. The former keeps the sediment from interfering with the flavor, while the latter reduces astringency and bitterness.
Red wines generally only need a half hour before they’re ready to sip…just make sure the wine isn’t too hot or too cold!
Consider Aging Your Bordeaux
Bordeaux ages very well due to its high acidity and tannin count. These qualities create extremely subtle flavor notes over time you won’t find in younger bottles.
If you don’t want to wait five or ten years to drink your wine, consider purchasing an older bottle. You’ll have to shell out a little extra to make up the difference, but it’s very much worth it. We highly recommend finding a battle between the years 2005 to 2010.
That said, not all Bordeaux is capable of aging gracefully. You want Bordeaux that has a higher acidic count, such as a bottle with a large percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon.
A Bordeaux with a high volume of Merlot is best consumed in five years or less.
Always Swirl, Sniff, Then Sip
Don’t take a sip quite yet! Swirling exposes your wine to more aeration, further bringing out its complex flavor notes.
If your wine is at a suitable temperature (think sixty to sixty eight degrees), you may catch some of Bordeaux’s more mineral-like aroma.
The Bordeaux Price Guide
How much is Bordeaux? Quite high, actually! Bordeaux prices are legendarily varied, able to easily hit hundreds to thousands of dollars due to its unparalleled aging potential and esteemed location.
Below is our Bordeaux wine price range to get you started.
The $10 to $20 Bordeaux Price Range
You don’t need to shell out a week’s worth of pay for a bottle of good Bordeaux. Here are a few starter wines to get you started on your Bordeaux journey.
Chateau Montet Bordeaux Merlot
This bottle hails from the Entre-Deux-Mers of Bordeaux, focusing heavily on Merlot to create a smooth, delicate bottle. This entry is a solid place to start if you want to enjoy the dark fruit and gently spiced aspects of the blend.
Château De Camarsac Bordeaux Superieur, 2019
This is an affordable Bordeaux wine you can still push to its full potential with aging or decanting. Expect to enjoy traditional currant, dark cherry, and a hearty helping of tannins.
Chateau Bois Redon Bordeaux Superieur
If you’re not quite a fan of high tannins, consider this bottle from Chateau Bois Redon. This Bordeaux is more similar to a Merlot, offering a smooth, medium body and a sweeter flavor.
The $25 to $50 Bordeaux Price Range
Now to step things up a notch. Higher-end Bordeaux tends to come from prestigious wineries with old histories and plenty of age.
Chateau Bel-Air Lussac St Emilion, 2018
This bottle is a classic Bordeaux blend, containing a mixture of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark cherry and black currant are the dominant notes here, though you may enjoy a hint of oak.
Brio De Cantenac Brown, 2016
We found this bottle fascinating for its slightly sweeter flavor and subtle floral aroma. You’ll still have plenty of ripe, dark blackberry and plum to enjoy throughout.
The $55 to $100 Bordeaux Price Range
The following Bordeaux wine price range is best saved for a special occasion. Make sure to store these beauties away from sunlight and high temperatures to preserve their quality.
Le Petit Haut Lafitte, 2015
With a brilliantly intense flavor and several years of aging, this bottle is a must-have. Blackberry and black currant dominate, with the quintessential cedar and minerals that make Bordeaux such a rustic experience.
Chateau Du Retout Haut Medoc, 2016
Do you crave a red wine with a little extra bite? This bottle from Chateau du Retout boasts spicy pepper and smoky tobacco notes, fantastic for a fatty dish in need of some contrast.
Still, have a few questions about what makes Bordeaux so distinctive? We have a few commonly asked questions below.
Should Bordeaux Wine Be Served Chilled?
The higher the tannic count and thicker the body, the less you should chill. While chilling brings out brighter flavors in white wines and rosé, this act tends to dull the flavors of a still red.
Keep your Bordeaux at room temperature (or, more specifically, sixty to sixty eight degrees).
How Long Does Red Wine Last After Opened?
How long your red wine will last depends, again, on the tannin and acidity. These features act similar to a preservative, preventing the loss of flavor or the growth of bacteria.
Expect a Bordeaux to last about five days after being opened.
Is Bordeaux Good With Cheese?
Absolutely! We highly recommend blue cheeses like Valençay or a soft, white cheese like Brie.
Bordeaux is just as fascinating to read about as it is to drink. Today’s winemakers work hard to bring a centuries-old legacy to your kitchen.
Bordeaux is a red wine blend from the Bordeaux region of France. This region is further divided into subregions that offer individual spins on the wine, right alongside single variety reds and white wines. That said, Bordeaux predominantly uses red wine grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.