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, 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...
Wine Spectator, 90 points: Very fresh and racy showing lemon zest and chartreuse notes along the edges of the lemon pound cake and creamed Jonagold apple core with a bouncy finish. Drink now through 2018. -JM
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: Superbly ripe this wine shows upfront botrytis and honey flavors. At its core it bears opulence with depth and concentration. The open character of the wine is shot through with lemon and orange zest flavors.
Vinous, 97 points: The 2009 de Fargues is very refined and detailed on the nose with pure botrytised fruit, quince and honeysuckle, developing waxy aromas with continued aeration. The palate is well balanced with a killer line of acidity...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: The Sigalas Rabaud was sensational out of barrel and served blind, the wine does nothing to dispel my initial optimism that this is the apogee for the estate – so far. It is bestowed with an intense bouquet of quince...
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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