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, 93 points: The second wine of Château Palmer is a rich, floral, smooth and perfumed wine. It has layers of dark plums and almost sweet acidity, with tannins that are buried in the voluptuous palate. The finish shows intense black...
jamessuckling.com, 96 points: The most powerful Issan ever with incredible depth of fruit and richness. Muscular tannins. Loads of dark berry, tea leaf and autumnal character at the end of the palate. A traditional, broad-shouldered wine. Better in 2018.
TheWineCellarInsider.com, 98 points: If you are seeking a thrill ride, and Pomerol is your type of thrill, look no further. This is pure bottled decadence. The wine is silky, sexy, sensuous and concentrated. There is a beautiful purity in the fruit and a...
jamessuckling.com, 92 points: A ripe and juicy wine with dried strawberry and hints of earth. Full body, with velvety tannins. Delicious finish. Sweet fruit at the end. Drink or hold.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 99 points: The 2010, a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc cropped at 20 hectoliters per hectare, is showing incredibly well, combining elegance, extraordinary creme de cassis and kirsch-like fruit, and notes of licorice...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 100 points: Sadly, there's not a whole lot of production to this microscopic estate in Pomerol, but the name says it all. The awesome aromatics include not only raspberries, black cherries, and blackberry, but also the floral perfume...
jamessuckling.com, 93 points: This is so good already. What an amazing precision of fruit for this wine with a blackberry and blueberry character as well as minerals. Full and super silky with lovely fruit. Gourmand. Tasty. I want to drink it. Always...
Wine Enthusiast, 93 points: This is a fine, beautifully controlled wine. Its dark black currant fruits and firm dense texture are restrained, stylish and delicious. At the same time, the fruits offer a smooth, juicy aftertaste. Keep for 6–7 years.
Wine Spectator, 94 points: Really vibrant with lovely notes of plum violet and cherry preserves laced with chalky cut that stretches out the finish. Very very solid. -J.M.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 90 points: A consistent sleeper of the vintage the well-made deep ruby/purple-hued 2010 exhibits cassis camphor lead pencil shavings and pen ink-like characteristics in its medium-bodied personality. With sweet tannins and loads of...
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