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, 92 points: (90-92) The 2016 Les Champs Libres, produced by the Guinaudeau family of Pomerol's Château Lafleur, is 100% Sauvignon Blanc picked 9, 11 and 13 September, matured in Burgundy barrel with 70% new oak, the remainder...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 91 points: The 2016 Ygrec (or “Y” as it is shown on the label and referred to) is, of course, the dry white from Yquem, and this latest release is a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Sémillon picked between 5 September and 13...
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: (JS96-97 points) A white with sliced apple, pear and lemon character. Medium to full body, layered and so long. Tight and exciting. So salty and minerally. Structured. Phenolic intensity and all wound up. What a white!
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: (JS96-97 points) Layered with a round and rich texture and body. Full and flavorful. Lots of dried-apple and pineapple character. Very long finish. Exotic and ripe. We will see which is better.
jamessuckling.com, 99 points: (JS98-99 points) This is dense like a Montrachet yet so minerally with crushed-stone undertones. Full-bodied, layered and powerful. A great glass of white wine. First time they used a majority of sauvignon blanc.
jamessuckling.com, 95 points: (JS94-95 points) A solid and four-square white with lemon-rind and dried-apple character. Pears, too. Full and dense with layers of fruit and phenolic character. Red wine texture in a white. One for aging.
jamessuckling.com, 98 points: (JS97-98 points) This is really exciting with a vivid and energetic acidity and brightness. Lemon rind, pear and mineral character. Full-bodied, tight and long. A winner. Great finish.
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: (JS96-97 points) A dense and powerful white with wonderful depth and phenolic tension. Shows very pretty sliced-apple, lemon and pear character. Excellent finish. 90% sauvignon blanc with the rest semillon and sauvignon...
Vinous, 91 points: (88-91) The 2016 La Clarté de Haut-Brion feels quite rich and intense owing to the high percentage of Sémillon (76 percent) in the blend this year. A phenolic, broad white, the 2016 has plenty of personality, although it...
Wine Enthusiast, 96 points: (WE94-96 points) This wine is intense and concentrated, ripe in generous tropical and citrus fruits. There is plenty of lemon as well as grapefruit in the tight, mineral texture. It is likely to age well, and should be...
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