What is Bordeaux wine? - 06/04/2017

What is Bordeaux wine?

Bordeaux refers to a wine from Bordeaux, France. Over 86% of Bordeaux wines are red wines made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Both grapes are originated from Bordeaux. Let’s not forget the whites made out Sauvignon blanc and Semillion for both dry and sweet wines, ever heard about Sauternes?

This article will introduce you to Bordeaux wine including tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, and key details to know. Again, the best way to understand this is to hope on in one of our van for a wine tour!

Bordeaux Tasting Notes & flavours

Red Bordeaux Primary Flavors: Black Currant, Plum, Graphite, Cedar, Violet

Bordeaux reds are medium- to full-bodied with bold aromas of black currant, plums and an earthiness like smelling wet soil or pencil lead. Depending on the quality, vintage and what region within Bordeaux the wine is from, fruit flavors range from more tart fruit to sweeter ripe fruit. When you taste the wines, they burst with mineral and fruit notes that lead into prickly, savory, mouth-drying tannins. The tannins are often high enough that wines will age for several decades. This is mostly related to the grapes used in the blend as well as the french oak barrel ageing…The best way to understand what we call ‘Terroir’ is to hop on one of our of wine tour!

Speaking of aging, one of the secrets to finding great Bordeaux has a lot to do with seeking out great vintages from the region (great vintages seem to come along 1–2 times every 5 years) and then stocking up. Even affordable wines are great on a good vintage in Bordeaux. With weather changing, great vintages seem to happen more often, 2015 & 2016 aere both amazing vintages with a great ageing potential.

The Blending, a Bordeaux thing

One of the most important things to understand about Bordeaux wines is that they are a blend of grape varieties for most of them. The red Bordeaux Blend is one of the most copied around the world and it includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (with tiny amount of Carménère). It’s like alchemy, we believe that 1 + 1 = 3. The result is always more complexe that the simple addition of 2 different grapes. Of course, the proportion of the grapes in the blend will make a difference to the flavor (see the major blends below). Come on this tour with Bordeaux Wine Trails to learn the art of blending Merlot and Cabernets!

How to serve Bordeaux wines

Bordeaux wines usually taste best after they’ve opened up (e.g. been decanted). By Eddy Welker

With their beautiful labels and green glass, Bordeaux bottles have an elegant look on the table. Here’s what to know about serving this wine:

  • Red Bordeaux is best served just slightly below room temperature (around 65 °F / 18 °C).
  • It’s always a great idea to decant red Bordeaux wines.
  • Store Bordeaux and all your red wines below 65 °F / 18 °C.
  • A decent vintage and solid producer (around 19 EUR+) will easily age for 15 years. More if it’zs made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
  • Again, there is no rules, always ask the vendor of even better the winery when you come with us on a wine tour.

Pairing Food with Bordeaux Wine

Steak frites (the local steak and chips dish) might just be the perfect complement and most simple to red Bordeaux. The boldness of Bordeaux compliments the umami in the meat and the wine’s grippy tannins are smoothed out by the dish’s fat content. In fact, Bordeaux wine will taste sweet and fruity against this rich meaty backdrop. The steak frites example shows us that when pairing foods with Bordeaux, you’ll want to seek out foods with a.) plenty of umami and b.) enough fat to counteract tannin.

Let’s not forget the sweet wines. We created this unique wine tour in Bordeaux to show you that sweet wines goes beautifuly with local savoury food.

Most of our tours are paired with a great deal of local food, perfect to enjoy with a French aperitif!

The Bordeaux wine Region

A little History of Bordeaux

The history of the Bordeaux wine region dates back to the ancient Romans who were the first people to cultivate, plant vineyards and produce Bordeaux wine. The next step in the history of creating the Bordeaux wine region took place in 1152, when the heir to the Duchy of Aquitaine, known as Eleanor of Aquitaine, married the future king of England, Henry Plantagenet. Bordeaux was then under english control for more than 300 years until the end of the 100 years war.

The wine had prestigious clientele including Thomas Jefferson during an era when sweet white wines were more popular than dry red wines. In addition to that, there was also a type of rosé popular in the 1700’s, particularly with the English, who called it “claret” (“klair-ette”) due to the wines translucent red color. It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that Bordeaux red wines became more well known from the region.

The dramatic moment of this transformation was an official decree that classified the top producers of the day. This classification, now deemed “1855 Classification” identified the best wineries in the region and ranked them 1 through 5. The classification hasn’t changed (except for one adjustment) even though there are many more producers in the region making outstanding wines. Fortunately, if you know the regions of Bordeaux, you can find great wines without needing to buy according to the Cru Classification. All our tours include always a grand cru chateau and a small family estate so you can see both environment.


Major Regions to Know

Médoc and Graves : “the Left Bank”

This area is known for its gravelly soils and graphite-driven red wines with a dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The most prestigious sub-regions in the Médoc include Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Saint–Estephe, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan (the areas first classified in 1855). The wines from Médoc are some of the boldest and most tannic of Bordeaux, perfect for aging or matching with red meat. Here is a typical example of a left bank Bordeaux blend in order of proportion:

Left Bank Bordeaux Blend

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Merlot
  3. Cabernet Franc
  4. Malbec
  5. Petit Verdot
  6. Sauvignon blanc, Semilion and Sauvignon gris for the whites

Libournais (Saint Emilion, Pomerol…): “the Right Bank”

This area in Bordeaux is known for its red clay soils that produce bold plummy red wines with a dominance of Merlot. The most well-known and sought after sub-regions including Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. The wines from around Libourne are still moderately bold, but generally have softer, more refined tannins. For this reason, right bank wines are a great way to get introduced to the region. Here is a typical example of a Libournais Bordeaux blend in order of importance:

Right Bank Bordeaux Blend
  1. Merlot
  2. Cabernet Franc
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Carmener

Cru Classifications of Bordeaux

There are several classifications of Bordeaux wines across the region. Several are worth investigating to identify great regional producers.

  • Crus Artisans Small artisan producers of the Médoc
  • Crus Bourgeois For producers in the Médoc based on quality assessment of regional character
  • Crus Classés de Graves (now called Pessac Leognan A classification of producers in Graves from 1953 (amended in 1959)
  • Crus Classés de Saint-Émilion A classification of top quality producers in Saint-Émilion that is revisited every 10 years.
  • Crus Classés de 1855 A 5-tier classification of producers in Médoc and Graves (and sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac) from 1855. One winery, château Mouton Rothschild, moved up a tier in 1973

Entre-Deux-Mers “Between 2 tides”

The area between the 2 major rivers of Bordeaux (the Garonne and Dordogne rivers) is called Entre-Deux-Mers. This area produces both red (predominantly Merlot) and white wines but is perhaps more well-known for its white wines (a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and the rare Muscadelle). Wines have grapefruit and citrus notes with zippy acidity–a perfect wine for summer and fish.

Sauterne Sweet Wines

Sauternes and its surrounding regions of Barsac, Cadillac, etc are along a particularly dank portion of the Garonne River. Morning fog causes the white grapes growing in the area to develop a certain type of fungus called Botrytis. The fungus causes the grapes to shrivel and sweeten making one of the sweetest white wines in the world.

White Bordeaux

A tiny part of Bordeaux’s wine production is dedicated to white wines. These wines are made with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and range to zippy and fresh from places like Entre-Deux-Mers to creamy and lemon curd-like from places like Pessac-Leognan.

We have 60 different appelations *in the Bordeaux region, come and taste the difference in a wine tour in the Bordeaux region

*An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown

Alors? What’s next???

For those of us who love red blends, who love France in genaral and its lifestyle, you know what you have to do : call Bordeaux Wine Trails

We will take you on a great wine tour and wine tasting in Bordeaux vineyard where you’ll share this amazing times with fun guides and hosts!

Bordeaux is a region that was a source of inspiration to many of today’s most popular wines. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to share our lifestyle with you when you come!

source : Winefolly