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 Spectator, 92 points: Exotically perfumed violet and rose petals burst on your palate accompanied by dried apricot lemon and honey flavors. Gorgeous and subtle glowing on the finish.
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: For a 2004, this is big and rich, but that is to be expected from Guiraud. The fruit is magnificently ripe, with flavors of peach and tangerine syrup along with the core of botrytis and dark honey. The aftertaste is...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points: (RP90-92 points) Rated, no tasting note given. - Robert Parker
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: This appears to be the synthesis of the fabulous 2001 and 2003. It shows wonderful aromas of botrytis spice, honey and citrus rind. Lots of fruit with a tropical fruit undertone of mango and papaya on the palate. Intense...
jamessuckling.com, 99 points: A very classic Yquem. Breathtakingly wide spectrum of floral honey, exotic fruit (passion fruit, mango and pineapple), caramel and marzipan aromas. But none of this is a jot too much. In fact, the wine is extremely...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: Pale gold in color, the 2009 Doisy Daëne features expressive notes of honeyed lemons, dried mango slices, apricot tart and Seville orange marmalade with a touch of shaved almonds. The palate delivers mouth-filling stone...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 96 points: 96+ Pale lemon-gold colored, the 2016 Climens is a little youthfully mute, revealing notions of ripe peaches, mango and musk melon with touches of cedar chest, orange blossoms, candied ginger and baking bread. Bursting...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Gold color. Loads of dried pineapple and apple with honey and melons as well on the nose. Full-bodied medium sweet with lots of dried fruits on the palate. Long and lively. Almost exotic. Drink now. -JS
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Impressively classy and focused; lemon, lime, tropical, dried apricot and toasted coconut flavors are presented in a seductive, velvety package.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 96 points: Pale to medium gold colored, the 2009 Coutet leaps from the glass with warm apple pie, dried mango, fresh straw, lemongrass, ginger and crème caramel notes. The rich, concentrated, unctuous flavors are lifted by amazing...
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