What is Bordeaux Wine?

There’s one wine red wine lovers everywhere covet: the esteemed French Bordeaux wine. With vibrant fruit and mineral notes, peppery spices, and firm, prickly tannins, this glorious red never fails to provide a divine tasting experience. 

This blog addresses what makes this wine so renowned amongst other red blends, where it comes from, best food pairings, and more. 

First, let’s start with the history of Bordeaux wines. 

What is Bordeaux Wine?

History of Bordeaux

The region of Bordeaux lies in southwest France. To the north of Bordeaux, the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers meet, forming a large estuary known as the Gironde. This area is the largest wine-growing region in the country, with vineyards spanning 27,000 acres. 

Bordeaux has a rich history of viticulture, starting with the Romans having first introduced varietals like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Soon after, the Romans were crafting blends and calling them “Bordeaux wine.” This newly discovered wine was distributed throughout the rest of France and Britain, gaining popularity after King Richard declared it among his favorites. 

Grand Cru Classification

After the Bordeaux boom, the 1855 Classification decreed that the best wine producers be ranked on a 1 through 5 system, with 1 being the most distinguished. This classification system still holds today, with labels like Grand Cru Classé and  Premier Cru signifying the creme de la creme of French wine

Now that we’ve covered a brief history of Bordeaux, let’s get into the tasting notes of Bordeaux wine.

Bordeaux wine tasting notes

Bordeaux Wine Tasting Notes

To get a complete sample of Bordeaux’s flavor profile, we must examine its two main categories: red and white. We will also explore the best food pairings for each of these wines. 

Red Bordeaux

This type of Bordeaux traditionally consists of various wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and a small amount of Carménère. Red Bordeaux tends to be medium to full-bodied in structure with pronounced tannins and rich fruit flavors. 

The main tasting notes for Red Bordeaux include black currant, plums, minerals, and earthy undertones like wet soil and pencil lead. 

Red Bordeaux Food Pairings

With its grippy tannins and robust fruit flavors, Bordeaux red wine is the best companion for hearty stews and braised meats like lamb and beef. Any dark meat with lots of spices and flavor tastes decadent with a wine glass filled with red Bordeaux. 

White Bordeaux Wines

White Bordeaux varieties blend dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. However, there are also sweet white wine variations of this Bordeaux type. These wines boast bright, vibrant flavor notes like lemon, gooseberry, and chamomile. 

White Bordeaux Food Pairings

Like many bright, dry white wines, a white Bordeaux wine tastes best when paired with light, fresh seafood doused in lemon and fresh summer salads. 

Now that we’ve covered Bordeaux wine-tasting notes and food pairings let’s delve further into the geography of this lovely French sipper. Here are the best places to find Bordeaux wines.

White Bordeaux wine

Top Bordeaux Wine Regions

We’re taking you on a brief tour of the Bordeaux wine map as we explore what makes each wine-producing appellation unique. Divided by the Gironde Estuary are two main areas: the left bank and the right bank. 

Haut Médoc and Graves Appellations: The Left Bank

Bordeaux blends produced on the left bank are the boldest and most tannic in the region, making them ideal for long-term aging and hearty meat pairings. Here, the sub-regions of Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Saint-Estephe, Margaux, and Pessac Léognan grow robust Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in gravelly soils. 

Most left-bank Bordeaux blends are made of Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by smaller amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot in that order. 

Libournais: The Right Bank

This area is known for growing grapes that produce plummy red wines, primarily the Merlot grape variety. It is in sub-regions like Pomerol and Saint Emilion where this varietal thrives in red clay soil. While Bordeaux blends from this region bear softer tannins, they are still bold with dark fruit and berry flavors. 

Bordeaux from the right bank consists of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, in order from greatest to least portion.

Left bank and right bank bordeaux

Embolden Your Meal With Bordeaux

If you’re a fan of French wine, you must try a bold and distinguished Bordeaux. Remember that you’ll be sipping the best from the rest if you’re tasting one labeled Grand Cru or Premier Cru. 

If you travel to France, look for left-bank and right-bank Bordeaux, as the blend will change depending on where you visit. This is one aspect that continues to make Bordeaux wines so unique.

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