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.
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.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: It is a quintessential offering from Lafite Rothschild. This prodigious wine is both elegant and intensely flavored and almost diaphanous in its layers that unfold with no heaviness. An opaque ruby/purple color is...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points: Deep garnet colored with a touch of brick, the nose offers notes of cassis, tobacco leaf and tar with hints of tree bark and earth. The palate is taut and savory / minerally with very firm chewy tannins somewhat...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points: Denis Durantou explained that analytically, the Château l'Eglise-Clinet 1999 is exactly the same as the 1998, although it is completely different in taste. He also said that it was the last vintage that he had to...
Wine Spectator, 91 points: ...Lots of Indian spices on the nose with lovely berry and plum character. Medium- to full-bodied with fine tannins and plenty of racy fruit. A reserved fine wine..
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...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: Though I have tasted many vintages of Palmer in recent months, it has been some time since I tasted the 1999 Palmer. Now at 17 years of age, it has a really quite splendid bouquet that is so fresh and vital, pure brambly...
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