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.
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: This full, fruity wine is packed with acidity as well as ripeness. It has a fresh black-currant character, and the structure underneath is strong. It will develop relatively quickly, but then could hold at its peak for...
Vinous, 93 points: The 2010 Sociando-Mallet is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc picked between September 24 and October 15. There is initially a touch of reduction, although that soon blows away to reveal...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: This mouthfilling red displays a core of plum black cherry and red currant fruit with well-integrated toast. There's a light tarry edge on the finish. Tasted non-blind. -J.M.
Wine Spectator, 94 points: Bright damson plum cherry and black currant fruit races along in this invigorating red with mouthwatering acidity and a superfresh iron-filled finish that has a nice rapier feel. Sleek and long. -J.M.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 90 points: A consistent sleeper of the vintage the well-made deep ruby/purple-hued 2010 exhibits cassis camphor lead pencil shavings and pen ink-like characteristics in its medium-bodied personality. With sweet tannins and loads of...
Wine Enthusiast, 95 points: 93-95 Modern in style, with its new wood flavors dominant, this is a tight wine at this stage, packed with tannins, the fruit a ripe promise for the future. Big and dark, juicy flavors show through finally.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: Always one of the sexiest wines from Bordeaux, and probably best drunk in its first decade of life, this hedonistic fruit-bomb offers up oodles of jammy black cherry and black currant fruit interwoven with some floral...
jamessuckling.com, 96 points: The second wine of Ausone again doesn't taste like a second wine! It's too good!! Dense and exciting with blackberry blueberry and currants. Full and powerful. It takes off at the end. The precision and pinpointed dark...
Vinous, 91 points: The 2010 Acte 2 is a step up from the debut on the nose, demonstrating more cohesion and harmony, raspberry and light blueberry scents and the oak better integrated than the Acte 1. There is a subtle mintiness that...
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