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, 91 points: Aromas of mineral blackberry and licorice lead to a full body with lots of racy tannins and a long flavorful finish. There's plenty of character with a polished refined style yet tannic. Best after 2011. 9830 cases made...
Wine Enthusiast, 90 points: A full, firm, ripe wine that shows considerable style and richness. There are fine, dusty tannins, masking the full-bodied black fruits, licorice flavors, and a firm, smooth aftertaste.
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Sweet tobacco berry and currant aromas follow through to a full body with soft silky tannins and a fresh racy aftertaste of currant and mineral. The texture of the tannins is very beautiful. Best after 2016. –JS
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Tropical fruit aromas, with lemon, apple and hints of toasty coconut. Full-bodied, with lots of fruit, honey and banana flavors. Layered and rich, with a long finish. Needs time. The best white in a long time from this...
Decanter, 99 points: Deep bright ruby, superconcentrated and extremely vertical, this Mouton is only starting to open up after which it will plateau for another fifty years or so of outstanding drinking. Cassis, cedar, graphite aromas and...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 100 points: A sensational effort from proprietor Denis Durantou this 2005 is a compelling wine but purchasers should wait at least a decade to begin the magical liquid tour. One of the monumental wines of the vintage it boasts a...
Wine Spectator, 90 points: Gorgeous aromas of crushed blackberry, Indian spices and cherry follow through to a full body, with firm, round tannins, sweet fruit and a pretty, caressing finish. Juicy and delicious. Best after 2011. 12,500 cases made.–JS
Decanter, 94 points: I'm not sure you need me to recap the weather conditions in 2005 as it's such a famous, and relatively recent, year. Suffice to say, it was pretty close to a perfect year, with spots of heat but generally cool evenings...
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