Virtual Taste of France – Stop 2: Bordeaux
Stop 2 on our Virtual Taste of France is one of the most recognized and popular wine regions in France and indeed the whole world – Bordeaux. Located in the southwest of France, around the city of Bordeaux, the rivers Garonne and Dordogne and the Gironde estuary are important in defining the various parts of the region.
Bordeaux’s success largely comes down to its ideal location. The climate and limestone-rich soil are perfect for growing vines and the rivers provide water to irrigate the land. On the western side of the Bordeaux’s history as a prolific port city has for centuries given local winemakers access to markets around the world.
The region is home to 57 appellations and three different systems to identify the quality of these appellations. This can make the region intimidating and complicated for the newcomer to get to grips with, but broadly speaking Bordeaux can be divided into three main regions:
- The Right Bank
This is the area in the north of the Dordogne (colloquially known as the “right bank”) and around the city of Libourne
Translated as “between the two seas” the area between the Dordogne and Goronne rivers, both of which are tidal rivers, forms the centre of the region
- The Left Bank
The area south of the Garonne, around the city of Bordeaux itself, the Left Bank is further divided into Graves (upstream of Bordeaux) and Medoc (downstream of Bordeaux on a peninsula between the Gironde and the Atlantic ocean.
The concept of “terroir” – i.e. the idea that the place of origin is what gives the wine its true character and that wines differ because of where they come from – is very important in Bordeaux, which the top estates striving to make terroir-driven wines which reflect the place they are from. Each specific wine region provides a different wine tasting experience because of the terroir, or place of origin. Often these wines will use grapes collected from just one vineyard.
Bordeaux wines run the gamut from everyday table wine to some of the most prestigious and expensive wines in the world, but despite their acclaim quality wines can be found at almost all price points.
The region produces predominantly red wines (usually blends of at least two varietals from the region — Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – Left Bank blends tend to be Cabernet dominant white Merlot dominates Right Bank blends).
Dry and sweet white wines making up the remainder and mostly comprised of Sauvignon Blanc and/or Semillon. White Bordeaux quietly sits in the shadows of red Bordeaux — with the exception of Sauternes, which is one of the most sought-after dessert wines in the world.