With more than 7,000 chateaux, France’s Bordeaux region is the most important wine producing region in the world. As well as being the basis for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-based wines everywhere, Bordeaux wines are acknowledged to be among the world’s best reds—according to experts and amateurs alike.
The wine region of Bordeaux is comprised of many smaller areas and encompasses both banks of the Gironde estuary in southwest France, as well as the land bordering the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, which split off from the Gironde in the southern Medoc area. Generally, Bordeaux's best red wines are from seven major (and well-known) appellations: Pauillac, Saint-Estephe, Saint-Julien, and Margaux in the greater Medoc region, Graves to the south of the city of Bordeaux—in the region’s center, and Saint-Emilion and Pomerol toward the east. The large Graves region, as well as being the birthplace of claret, is home to many of the best dry whites. Premium sweet wines are made in Sauternes and Barsac, which are also within the Graves appellation but toward the south.
In understanding the multitude of Bordeaux wines, experts tend to talk about the right and left banks of the Gironde River. Generally, red wines from the river’s left bank, especially from Bordeaux’s Medoc region, are based on Cabernet Sauvignon, mixed with varying amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and, occasionally, a spot of Petit Verdot and Malbec. These reds are known to be firm and dry, with a substantial tannic spine, and are frequently austere in their youth. They are also among the world’s longest-lived. The Graves’ gravel and sand soil content contribute to more texture early and roasted accents of hot stones, smoke and tobacco.
The softer Merlot grape is the foundation for right bank wines, mostly to the town of Libourne’s eastern side. These wines are fleshier in general than wines from the left bank and are more pliant. They are also accessible at an earlier age—though the best of them can improve in bottle for decades.
jamessuckling.com, 98 points: (JS97-98 points) The is a phenomenal wine with dried pineapple and pear aromas and flavors. Full, very sweet. Incredible depth and power. Super complex.
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: (JS96-97 points) This is really something. I have never tasted a Guiraud like this. This is full-bodied yet so fresh and incredibly crisp and lively. Spicy and energetic. Fantastic acidity!
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 97 points: (WA95-97 points) The 2015 Doisy-Daene has a detailed bouquet, very correct, nothing showy or flamboyant as is typical of Denis Dubourdieu's Barsac. The palate is extremely well balanced and very pure: citrus fruit...
Wine Spectator, 96 points: (WS93-96 points) Intense, this features notes of peach, pear, apricot, quince and mango, layering them deftly while the creamy finish picks up light ginger and almond accents. A big wine. - JM
jamessuckling.com, 96 points: (JS95-96 points) This has phenolic tension and power with so much dried fruit character from pineapple to mango. Full, medium sweet and lively. Really excellent.
jamessuckling.com, 93 points: (JS92-93 points) Pretty Bastor with dried lemon, orange and spice character. Dried mushrooms too. Full body, medium sweet and a phenolic tension.
jamessuckling.com, 98 points: (JS97-98 points) A phenomenal white with dried fruits such as apricots and mangos. Masses of bortrytis spice. Full body yet agile and bright with incredible lightness and delicacy. So much cherry blossom too. Small white...
Wine Spectator, 97 points: (WS94-97 points) Vibrant, with a singed almond frame sprinting along, this offers nectarine, white peach and star fruit notes. Mirabelle plum and pineapple details echo through the finish. Very long, boasting terrific...
Wine Spectator, 98 points: (WS95-98 points) A scintillating wine, with apricot, pear and nectarine notes that are rich yet piercing. Heather and jasmine details gild the finish, which is very long and shows serious cut.—J.M.
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