I’ve been spending a bit of time trying to sort out the complex region of France collectively known as Bordeaux. This is a lot harder than one would think. Those of you in the know will likely skip this post, but hopefully, some will find it helpful, if I get some things not quite perfect, please bear with me. Understanding the regions, the grapes and the labels will help you to spend your money wisely. Bordeaux’s can be VERY expensive but there are bargains to be had, with knowledge! I’ve collected/gleaned a lot of this from Vins Du Bordeaux web site:
Bordeaux is divided into three areas Left Bank, Right Bank and Entre deux mers. This graphic which I shamelessly pilfered shows the areas:
From a satellite view it looks like this:
It’s worth stating the obvious, wines from Bordeaux are pretty much always blends of grapes, ie NOT single varietals.
From Vinepair referring to the reds of Bordeaux: “Left Bank wines are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon fleshed out with Merlot; Right Bank wines are more Merlot balanced by a smaller proportion of Cabernet. The Cabernet-driven Left Bank wines tend to be higher in tannin — again, making them good candidates for aging, which helps to mellow out the tannins and integrate the flavors of the wine. Merlot-driven Right Bank wines are generally smoother, with softer fruit flavors and balancing.”
Merlot in Bordeaux is not the fruit forward, softer wine some have come to loath, but rather, are bigger bolder than that. Not as big as the Cabs from Bordeaux.
So now let’s have a look at these three regions. First off Left Bank which is made up of Medoc and Graves which themselves have separate regions:
Left Bank: Medoc: Médoc, Saint-Estéphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, and Haut-Médoc Graves: Pessac-Léognan, Graves , Graves Supérieures, Cérons, Barsac, and Sauternes
Right bank is made up of Blaye and Libournais:
Right Bank: Blaye: Blaye, Cötes de Blaye, Blaye – Cotes de Bordeaux, Cötes de Bordeaux, and Cötes de Bourg Libournais: Fronsac, Canon Fronsac, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Pomerol, Lussac Saint-Émilion, Montagne Saint-Émilion, Saint-Georges-Saint-Émilion, Puisseguin Saint-Émilion, Saint-Émilion, Saint-Émilion grand cru, Francs Cötes de Bordeaux, Cötes de Bordeaux, Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux, and Cötes de Bordeaux
Last but not least is Entres Deux mers, which is the region in between the two rivers. Very reasonably priced good quality wines can be had in this region.
Regions of Entres Deux mers: Graves de Vayres, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux Haut-Benauge, Entre-Deux-Mers Haut-Benauge, Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux, Cadillac Cötes de Bordeaux, Cotes de Bordeaux Cadillac, Cotes de Bordeaux- Saint-Macaire, Loupiac, and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont
Ok let’s have a look at some sample labels and see what we can glean from them. Spolier alert, it really varies …
LCBO Link: Chateau Bergey 2016
This wine is from Left Bank, Graves, Pessac Leognan region. Sadly no mention of the grapes and we can see it’s handled by TasteVin Selections here in Ontario. So this ought to be more Cab Sauv but who knows.
LCBO Link: 2009 Chateau Langlais
This wine is from the Right bank, Liberais, Puisseguin Saint-Émilion region. In this case they generously (and unusually) gave us the break down of the grapes. As expected on the right bank this is Merlot dominant. Interestingly there’s more cab franc than sauv! And it is represented in Ontario by United Stars. We even get some tasting notes … sweet!
LCBO link : 2010 Chateau Tour de Sarrail
Vins de bordeaux is a little more tricky and more generic. Searching on the winery I would guess this to be an Entre deux mers wine, but honestly the grapes could come from almost anywhere in Bordeaux. Local rep is VinoLuna and we have the grape varietals, and a tasting note! The back of the bottle actually has more information on it than the LCBO web site?
LCBO link: 2015 Chateau Des Landes
This one is from the Right bank, Libournais, Lussac Saint-Émilion region. This time they allude to it, but the LCBO site is even clearer, this is 100% Merlot. Again the local rep is United stars.
Reviews of these wines will be coming in future posts, so stay tuned!
As an interesting but useless (to you) fact of trivia I went back and categorized the wines I’ve reviewed in the last two years here on CanadianWineGuy and tallied them up, I’ve reviewed and enjoyed 7 Right banks, 3 Entres deux Mers, and 2 Left banks!
Hope you’ve found this little post informative/useful in some way …