The Bordeaux wine growing region in south-west France is deservedly considered the epicenter of the world’s fine wine, renowned for its red blends that are often imitated but rarely equaled.
Representing 1.5% of the entire planet’s vineyards, Bordeaux is the largest and most prestigious wine region in France – with almost 90% of its production from around 60 appellations focusing on red wines, with a few white styles and even fewer roses making up the remainder.
Bordeaux’s success can be attributed to its location since it has served as a major city port for centuries – giving wine makers access to other parts of the world through its visitors as its reputation spread.
Red Bordeaux wine, or claret as it is known in the UK, is typically dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (with a small amount of Carmenere) used to varying degrees.The proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot used in the blends are generally defined by the locations of vineyards that are spread across three rivers – the Gironde, Garrone and Dordogne – of Europe’s largest estuary.
Bordeaux wine from the so-called left bank are the more illustrious and generally feature more Cabernet Sauvignon than those from the opposite left bank, which use more Merlot but produce greater quantities and are less expensive.
The few white wines that come from Bordeaux are usually made from Semilon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, with Graves renowned for its dry white styles while Saucerne produces the sweet varieties that Bordeaux was traditionally renowned for.
Bordeaux wine can be differentiated by six main families of styles, four red wines based on sub region and two white wines based on sweetness:
Red Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur wines account for the vast majority of production.
Red Libourne styles are dominated by Merlot and less bold with overtly fruity flavours.
Red Cotes de Bordeaux are produced from the surrounding hills and represent good value.
Red Graves and Red Medoc are quintessential left bank blends from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dry and Sweet Whites are mainly produced from Graves and Sauternes respectively.
The best way to explore Bordeaux wine is to visit the region itself and with 4.3 million visitors each year, 31% of which are foreign tourists, the Gironde is the most popular wine tourism destination in France.
Among the most influential areas to visit are Medoc, Pomerol, Graves and Saint-Emilion – at Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive Bordeaux wine tours, which can include elaborate tastings, luxury accommodations, fine dining experiences and unique activities.
Among these is an eight-day tour of Bordeaux and Basque country, which begins in the city and travelling through renowned regions including Medoc, Saint Emilion and Arcachon Bay before exploring Biarritz and the Basque country.
For shorter breaks, our city tour of Bordeaux explores the historic centre, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007. Visitors can marvel at the 18th century architecture while being shown around the city by an experienced guide before enjoying gourmet food specialities and a Bordeaux wine tasting at an exclusive boutique winery.
Food enthusiasts can combine sampling magnificent Bordeaux wine with delicious local cuisine with a walking and tapas tour of the Chateau Boutinet or the opportunity to prepare your own meal with a cooking class from a kitchen surrounded by panoramic views of iconic Medoc vineyards. And, for something more unusual, Bordeaux’s annual Moon Festival takes place on October 3rd at Chateau Guiraud, the First Great Growth classified in 1855, to honour the harvest with a festive atmosphere that combines both French and Chinese cultures.
If you're interested in one of our Bordeaux Wine Tours, please visit this link.
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