In Bordeaux, several of the most famous sub-appellations have their grape-growing regimen defined by a river – specifically, the Gironde River.
Picture yourself on a boat chugging along the Gironde, heading northwest and then on out to the Atlantic Ocean. Look to your right, and you’re spying an area generally referred to as the Right Bank. Look to your left, and you are gazing upon what’s known as, yes, the Left Bank.
The Right Bank includes the St.-Emilion and Pomerol districts. The Right Bank encompasses numerous villages and vineyard areas, including Pauillac, Margaux, St.-Julien and St.-Estephe.
There may be very small differences in climate between the Right Bank and Left Bank, but not so much that scientists or agriculturists would recommend growing one variety of grape over another. Generally speaking, what can be grown well on one side also can be grown successfully on the other.
Yet the wines produced on the two sides of the Gironde are quite different.
On the Right Bank, a vast majority of the blends are based on Merlot or Cabernet Franc. They’re quite supple and can be enjoyed within just a few years of their vintage.
On the Left Bank, Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety, and it’s quite common to see three or four other varieties included in the cuvees. These are bigger, bolder wines that are built to age.
Whichever “side” you take in the Great Bordeaux Debate, you’re likely to be in for a memorable wine-drinking experience – and that you can take to the bank.