There is no more famous wine region than Bordeaux, which is located in southwestern France.
Entire books have been written on the region and its estates, but a blog is no place for a book. So, for today, we’ll share five fascinating facts about this most fascinating wine region…
- Bordeaux is situated just inland from the western (Atlantic Ocean) coast of central France. It surrounds the massive Gironde Estuary and the Garonne and Dordogne rivers that flow into it.
- Some of the most famous wineries in the world call Bordeaux home, including Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Haut Brion, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Petrus and Yquem. With that fame comes a price, however. The wines made by all of the aforementioned estates carry hefty price tags. However, with some diligent hunting, some relative bargains can be found.
- The wines of Bordeaux typically are divided into two categories, known as Left Bank and Right Bank. The geography is more complicated than it sounds, and each “side” includes multiple sub-appellations. You can read a detailed explanation of the “banks” here. Almost all red wines of Bordeaux are multiple-variety cuvees. Most of the red blends of the Left Bank are based on Cabernet Sauvignon, while those of the Right Bank are based on Merlot.
- It is the “art of blending” that sets Bordeaux apart from many other winegrowing regions of the world, where only one or two varieties fare well in the soils and general climate. As a result, the styles can range from elegant and restrained to full bodied and complex — based on the vintage, the vintner’s preferences, or both.
- The city of Bordeaux earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2007 after the mayor took steps to reinvigorate the grimy and traffic-clogged port and city center. Today, tour companies are proud to take visitors through the city, in addition to the nearby vineyards and wine estates. We had good luck with Viator last year in finding enjoyable tours in Barcelona, Vienna and two cities in Switzerland. Here’s a sampling of what Viator has to offer in Bordeaux.
Of course, the next best thing to being there is drinking Bordeaux wines at home. But that can be pricey. For wine lovers on a budget, one strategy would be to supplement Bordeaux wines with Bordeaux varietals from other winegrowing countries — a la this sampler from Vinesse. The flavors will be the same or similar, and you’ll be able to make purchases by the case rather than by the bottle.