Anyone who’s ever opened a wine list knows that Bordeaux is an exceptional wine region, but it can be a mysterious one, too. To guide you through it, we’ve laid out the Bordeaux basics below.
Scroll down to learn more about these incredible wines, or check out our top 11 list on the right.
Red Bordeaux may be made from the following grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Carmenère, and Malbec. Some wines are made from a single variety, others from a blend. For white Bordeaux, only three permitted varieties are produced in significant quantities: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle.
A great vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon might be a so-so vintage for Merlot (and vice versa). For this reason, winemakers may choose to vary the proportions of grape varieties in their wines from vintage to vintage.
Left Bank wines (e.g., Médoc, Paulliac, Margaux, Graves) are usually based on Cabernet Sauvignon, while Right Bank wines (e.g., Côtes de Bordeaux, Pomerol, St.-Émilion) contain more Merlot and Cabernet Franc. So, if you love Cabernet Sauvignon, look on the map to the left to find some new Left Bank regions to explore. If you prefer Merlot, look to the Right Bank.
Left Bank Bordeaux typically matures more slowly – so don’t plan on opening your young Pauillac any time soon. Wines from the Right Bank, on the other hand, tend to be plush, overtly fruity, and more approachable in their youth