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, 95 points: Very vibrant lemons and limes with tropical fruit. Hints of mangeso and melon. The palate has silky, smooth fruit with seamless build and flow. Impressive. 85% sauvignon and 15% semillon. Drink or hold.
jamessuckling.com, 92 points: A dry, taut and savory style with lemon-pastry aromas and flavors, tangy acidity and a cashew-nut finish. Drink or hold.
jebdunnuck.com, 98 points: If I had to pick the white of the vintage, it would be the 2015 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc from proprietor Olivier Bernard. Based largely on Sauvignon Blanc (there’s around 30% Sémillon) and from a 6-hectare parcel...
jebdunnuck.com, 93 points: I tasted two wines from Château Haut Bergery and unquestionably the white is where it’s at. The 2015 Château Haut-Bergey Blanc gives up bright notes of green apple, citrus, and mint, as well as more minerality and floral...
jamessuckling.com, 98 points: Very impressive pear and dried-peach fruits with very subtle mealy, savory notes. The palate delivers impressive weight, amazing power and depth here. Richness and great prowess. Tight now. Give it three or four years to...
jamessuckling.com, 95 points: Some spicy wood on offer with attractive, ripe tropical fruits delivered in a smoothly textured palate that has impressive length and focus. Good concentration. One of the best whites from here in a while. 55% sauvignon...
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: Deliciously aromatic, this wine is tight and structured but holds great promise. Acidity and citrus flavors balance with the perfumed character of the richer fruits and the touch of wood from the barrel aging. Drink this...
Wine Spectator, 94 points: (WS91-94 points) Very tangy and fresh, with lots of thyme and gooseberry notes followed by lemon pith and quinine accents. A rapier finish glistens with fleur de sel details. Shows ample cut and purity. Pitch-perfect...
Wine Spectator, 93 points: (WS90-93 points) A fresh, floral style, with a honeysuckle note leading the way, followed by chamomile, quinine and white peach flavors. Offers a long, pure finish. Score range: 90-93 –JM
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