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, 98 points: (WE96-98 points) The beautifully aromatic, honeyed scent leads into flavors of bitter orange and honey, along with extreme freshness. Notes of white peach and Rocha pear give richness to a wine that is not huge, but...
Wine Enthusiast, 95 points: This
is a firm wine although with superb fruit. It
is structured and dense, dark with tarry tannins as
well as juicy fruitiness. It is a powerful wine that
certainly has the freshness of the year while also
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: Cellar Selection. This wine has a lot of class and elegance, along with firm tannins that show how well it will age. It is dark and concentrated, the black fruits still developing under the solid structure. This wine will...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: (WA92-94 points) The wine is opaque purple, shows notes of blueberries, incense, camphor and black berry fruit, with licorice and charcoal notes. Complex aromatics are followed by a medium to full-bodied surprisingly...
Wine Spectator, 95 points: This packs some power, with ginger, dried peach and matchstick hints leading the way, but as this moves along, it slowly shows creamier quince, mango and papaya notes, and an alluring chamomile gilding. Still rather...
Vinous, 93 points: (90-93 points) The 2013 Latour a Pomerol is one of the fleshier wines of the vintage. Smoke, tobacco, incense and dark red/black stone fruits all meld together in a wine of distinction and personality. I won't at all be...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: (RP92-94 points) Full-bodied and atypically rich and concentrated for a 2013, it boasts beautiful blueberry and creme de cassis fruit as well as underlying chalky minerality, and good richness and concentration. It is a...
Vinous, 92 points: (90-92 points) The 2013 Rouget is wonderfully dark and fleshy in the glass. Sweet, layered and impeccable, the 2013 impresses for its depth and juiciness. The new oak is a bit present at the moment, but that should not be...
Wine Enthusiast, 96 points: This is finely structured, a tense
wine with great fruits and an intense texture. It’s
tight while bursting with fruit. The structure is
complex, dense and very mineral in character. It is a
wine that will need many...
Wine Spectator, 95 points: This packs some power, with ginger, dried peach and matchstick
hints leading the way, but as this moves along, it slowly shows
creamier quince, mango and papaya notes, and an alluring chamomile
gilding. Still rather...
Wine Enthusiast, 91 points: Almost entirely Merlot, this
is a rich and fruity wine. Dusty tannins hang in suspension
alongside the ripe blackberry fruits. The
wine is juicy, fresh with acidity and likely to develop
quickly. Drink from 2018. — R.V.
Showing 15 of 27 wines
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