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: After initial tastings suggested there was too much tannin, the wine has undergone a welcome transformation. It has become powerful and ripe, deliciously sumptuous, allying the tannins with densely ripe, sweet black...
Wine Spectator, 89 points: Beautifully balanced boasting lovely currant mineral and black cherry flavors medium to full body good complexity and well-integrated tannins. Should improve with age; try in 1999. -JS
jamessuckling.com, 96 points: This is very tight and powerful with sliced pear and apple character. Some meringue pie too. Full-bodied, firm and persistent. Very tight. Gorgeous. Drink or hold.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points: One of the most beautiful wines of the vintage the dark ruby/purple-colored La Lagune exhibits sweet cassis camphor truffle and white chocolate notes presented in a dense medium to full-bodied silky textured personality...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 89 points: ...exhibits a deep ruby/purple color and a powerful nose of licorice black currants and spicy new oak. There is sweet fruit on the attack and medium body but the firm tannin gives the wine grip and delineation as well as...
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JJ Buckley has great selection of fine Burgundy wines and I am delighted to purchase more from them.
-P.K., April 2019