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Majestic Guides: Bordeaux - Find your style

Category: Majestic Guides

Wines of Bordeaux - Find your Style


In short:

Advertisement Feature: We’ve all heard of Bordeaux as a famous French wine region, perhaps the term ‘Bordeaux blend’ or enjoyed a glass of one of the region's classic varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Cabernet Franc – but do you have a favourite style?

Bordeaux is most renowned for its exceptional red wines, usually made from blends of the classic varietals of the region: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Looking beyond the classics, Bordeaux has plenty to offer from contemporary reds to unexpected cuvées. Fruiter, fresher, and with a new character – this new generation of Bordeaux reds reflects their terroir, the personalities of the winemakers who create them and the ongoing changes in vineyard practices across the region. 

It may come as a surprise, but the Bordeaux region has always produced white wines – in fact, until 1970 the production of whites was even higher than that of reds. Today, over two thousand winemakers, many of whom run smaller estates, continue the thousand year old white wine tradition throughout the entire Bordeaux region. 

Bordeaux whites offer excellent balance, with impeccable smoothness and aromatic power – reflecting the freshness of the Atlantic Ocean and its strong winds, combined with delicious citrus notes. Sauvignon Blanc is usually dominant in the blend, most often teamed with Sémillon and Muscadelle. From refreshing, lively and fruity wines designed to drink young to well-structured wines with great aromatic persistence, Bordeaux’s dry whites are easy to pair with food, or enjoyed as an aperitif. 

If you’re new to Bordeaux as a region, or want to be more certain when searching the shelves for something you’ll love, knowing the geography of the region can be a real help.

Bordeaux is divided by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, to create a Left Bank and a Right Bank. The domains on the Left Bank tend to be much bigger, with the average being around 100 hectares, in comparison to closer to 10 hectares over on the Right Bank. Of course, the more hectares of vineyard, the more wine produced, hence Left Bank wines tend to be less ‘rare’ than their Right Bank counterparts.

On the Left Bank, the Médoc, Graves and Pessac Léognan offer savoury, perfumed reds with Cabernet Sauvignon being the dominant grape. This sub-region is also home to Sauternes, more well known name for its sweet whites. Thanks to its proximity to the Ciron, a stream that creates the perfect microclimate for botrytis, the naturally occurring process required for dessert wines. Liquid gold in a bottle, these wines are aromatically complex with incredible ageing capacity. 

While across the river on the Right Bank, the undulating countryside is home to Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Fronsac and Côtes de Bordeaux where Merlot dominates the blends but other varietals can be found in very small amounts, such as Petit Verdot, Malbec, or Carménère. The Right Bank is more dynamic in winemaking style, as many of the estates are smaller, and still owned by winemakers and their families. This offers greater flexibility to trial new grape varietals and production techniques, often using biodynamic and organic methods. A great place to look if you’re searching for a new style Bordeaux wines, or looking to impress with an interesting new favourite.

A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, this is left unoaked to preserve the grapes’ freshness. It’s crisp and floral, with peach, elderflower and zesty grapefruit flavours.
Beau Rivage means ‘beautiful shore’ – a tribute to Bordeaux’s rivers and the impact they have on its wines. This has notes of raspberry and blackberry with a touch of mocha.

A smooth claret from coastal vineyards, where cooling sea breezes result in particularly elegant wines. Discover juicy notes of cherry, dark chocolate and savoury spice.
This delicious claret is made by a family behind some of Bordeaux’s most expensive wines. It's rich, savoury and full of both fresh- and dried-fruit flavours.

Part of the Baron Edmond de Rothschild stable, this terroir is perfect for producing Merlot, despite the fact that it’s a rarity in Médoc. Expect a deep, powerful wine with silky tannins and black fruits flavours.
Expect a full-bodied wine with flavours of blackcurrant, blueberries, liquorice and hints of cedar and tobacco. Enjoy it now with classic Pauillac lamb shoulder or cellar for up to 20 years.

Château de Sales is the largest estate in the Pomerol appellation and has been in the hands of the same family since 1464. This has ripe notes of dark raspberry and cedar, with silky tannins and a long finish.
Concentrated and poised Margaux. A taste of Château Rauzan-Ségla's famous expertise for less. Drink it now with roast lamb and rosemary potatoes, or age for the next 7-8 years.