Bordeaux wines are some of the most popular and well-known in the world. The region is home to a large number of prestigious wineries, producing a wide range of wines that are enjoyed by wine lovers around the globe.
The vast majority of Bordeaux wines are red, with Cabernet Sauvignon being the most widely planted grape variety.
The wines of Bordeaux are typically full-bodied, with high levels of tannins and acids. They are often characterized by complex flavors and aromas, with a wide range of potential aging periods.
Bordeaux wines are typically classified according to their region of origin, with the most famous and expensive wines coming from the Medoc and Graves regions.
History of Bordeaux
The history of Bordeaux wines dates back to the 8th century when the region was first settled by the Romans. Viticulture quickly took root in the area, and the wines of Bordeaux soon became popular among the ruling class.
In the 12th century, the English began importing large quantities of Bordeaux wine, and the region soon became one of the most important wine-producing areas in Europe.
The wines of Bordeaux enjoyed a period of great popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries, with many of the region’s wines being exported to royal courts across Europe.
The phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century dealt a severe blow to the Bordeaux wine industry, but the region quickly recovered and today is once again one of the world’s leading wine regions.
Terrior of Bordeaux
The Bordeaux region has a diverse terroir, with a wide range of soils and climate conditions.
The Graves region is known for its gravel soils, which produce wines with good drainage and moderate alcohol levels. The Medoc region, on the other hand, is home to clay-based soils that yield richer, fuller-bodied wines.
The climate of Bordeaux is moderate, with cool winters and warm summers. The region experiences a fair amount of rainfall, which is beneficial for the grapes.
Bordeaux wines are typically classified according to their region of origin. The most famous and expensive wines come from the Medoc and Graves regions.
The Wines of Bordeaux
Nothing compares to the experience of going to Bordeaux and visiting the wineries. I don’t speak from experience – I only wish I knew.
Keep in mind that Bordeaux is much like champagne – it must be from the region to be worthy of the name. But even if you can’t go, you can still try some great wines at home. Here are some of my favorites.
- Chateau Margaux
- Chateau Haut-Brion
- Château Pédesclaux
- Château Léoville Las Cases
- Domaine de Chevalier
- Château Montrose
One of the most famous and prestigious wineries in Bordeaux, Chateau Margaux produces some of the region’s finest wines.
The estate’s flagship wine, the Chateau Margaux, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This wine was aged in barrels for 15 months and sold in limited quantities, unlike their other varieties.
Other Margaux wines that are readily available are the Grand Vin, the Pavillon Rouge, and the Pavillon Blanc.
Harmony is the word Chateau Margaux has coined to describe how their grapes grow. A combination of the terroir, climate, and knowledge of viticulture come together here to create some of the most sought-after wines in the world.
Chateau Haut-Brion is one of the few Bordeaux wineries that produces red and white wines of equal quality.
The estate’s flagship wine, the Chateau Haut-Brion, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The wine is characterized by its intense flavor profile with a structure that is plump, fresh, and fruity.
The white wine of Chateau Haut-Brion, the Haut-Brion Blanc, is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The wine is characterized by its delicate flavor profile, with notes of citrus and stone fruits.
The most compelling thing about this winery is that they have documentation dating back 2000 years that records the earliest wines produced from these exact soils in 1521.
Some of the youngest wineries in Bordeaux are still older than some of the oldest wineries in the United States. Château Pédesclaux is only 200 years old, but to us, that seems pretty seasoned.
They offer a Pauillac wine, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine is characterized by its intense flavor profile, with notes of blackberry, cassis, and chocolate.
The great thing about Pauillac wine is that it can be enjoyed much younger than many other Bordeaux varieties, so you don’t have to worry too much about the vintage you try.
All vineyards on the property have been restructured and are worked with environmentally-friendly methods. This ensures high-quality grapes during the current growing seasons as well as all future growing seasons.
The architecture on the property is surprisingly modern when compared with other wineries in this region, and it was all designed to serve the needs of the wine, with a custom-designed, 100% gravity-fed winery building.
Château Léoville Las Cases is one of the largest estates in Bordeaux, with over 90 acres of vineyards. It’s also one of the oldest, and was owned by a prestigious noble French family before it was purchased by the Las Cases family.
The flagship wine of Château Léoville Las Cases is the Grand Vin, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
This wine’s first vintage was produced in 1970 and each vintage afterward exhibits the classic characteristics of a great Bordeaux wine: intense flavour, complex aromatics, and a long finish.
The second wine of Château Léoville Las Cases is the Clos du Marquis, which is produced from the younger vines on the property. This wine is characterised by its fruit-forward flavour profile and its soft tannins.
Since this winery is in the Graves region, the terroir here is gravelly, but the river that cuts through it creates a unique microclimate that helps the grapes ripen to perfection.
The saying at Domaine de Chevalier goes, “Only a great terroir can produce a great wine.” Domaine de Chevalier is somewhat of an anomaly.
It’s nestled in the trees and hidden from view. While this protects the vines from extreme temperatures, it also hides the remarkable estate from the outside world.
The wines of Domaine de Chevalier are a reflection of the terroir, with each vintage exhibiting the unique characteristics of the land. The red wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and comes from a harvest sorted three times by hand for only the perfectly ripe fruits.
The white wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and is characterized by its fresh flavors and rich character. This wine is the perfect accompaniment to seafood.
There are 294 acres of vines surrounding the chateau at Château Montrose. The property is located in the Saint-Estèphe appellation and has been owned by the Bouygues family since 2006.
The terroir here is a mix of gravel, sand, and clay, which provides good drainage for the vines. The climate is also mild, with cool breezes coming off of the Atlantic Ocean.
This all results in wines that are well-structured and have intense flavor profiles. The flagship wine is the Grand Vin, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This wine is characterized by its ripe fruit flavors, its firm tannins, and its long finish.
Looking into the future, the brothers aim to maintain the 18th-century Bordeaux-style architecture while reducing the winery’s carbon footprint.