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.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 90 points: The 1999 Clos l'Eglise was over-shadowed by the feted 1998 at the time, but now with 16 years on the clock, it is really turning into a delightful Pomerol. There is only a touch of maturity on the rim, while the nose is...
Jancis Robinson's Purple Pages, 93 points: Spicy, vegy nose with great, top-quality density and balance. Pretty smart without being too concentrated or sweet. Very fresh and vibrant. Good wine! 18/20
Jancis Robinson's Purple Pages, 90 points: (17/20) Very dark ruby with evolved rim. Dark ruby. Well melded. Good balance. Really quite superior. Strong toffee nose. Firm, tight tannins. Admirably persistent.
Neal Martin's Wine Journal, 93 points: Tasted from an ex-chateau bottle at the Lafleur vertical dinner at Attersee in Austria. The 1999 is an overlooked vintage for Lafleur and is a strong challenger for the wine of the vintage. The Cabernet Franc component is...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: ...Its opaque purple color is followed by a glorious nose of candied black fruits graphite licorice and underbrush. It is full-bodied and sumptuous possessing amazing extract and richness for the vintage. Its high tannin...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points: ...a strong effort for this vintage. It displays a sweet nose of pain grille smoke meats graphite blackberry and cassis liqueur. The wine is full-bodied deep powerful and rich with sweet tannin and low acidity. This is a...
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