Bordeaux wine is from the Bordeaux region of France. 90% of the red wines that are made in the region are with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other 10% are Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenereand Petit Verdot.
The Bordeaux region is divided by the Garonne river. The left bank of the body of water is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignonand the right bank for its Merlot. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but it makes things easier. Similar to Burgundy, Bordeaux wines classifications can get a little overwhelming at the beginning, but you’ll quickly learn as you go.
The easiest way to find the right wine for you is to follow the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. After over one and a half centuries, very few things have changed. In more than 150 years, only two modifications were done to the document!
Left Bank Bordeaux, also known as Medoc and Graves wine classifications are pretty straight forward: First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Growths. It’s a simple ranking system, with the First Growth being considered the best, and therefore, the most expensive, and the Fifth Growth cheaper and “of lower quality.” Some also debate that the pricing influenced the categorization almost as much as the quality of the wine itself. The dominant wine here is the graphite driven Cabernet Sauvignon that’s produced in the most prestigious sub-regions of Medoc, such as Saint-Julien, Saint-Estephe, Margaux and Pauillac.
Red Bordeaux wines are usually medium to full-bodied, with slight notes of plums and black currant and earthy aromas of wet gravel and pencil lead. When drinking it, the flavour changes from the burst of mineral and fruity notes to savoury and prickly. The wines are so full of tannins that they can age for up to several decades!
Right Bank Bordeaux, also known as Libournais wines, on the other hand, weren’t classified. While it’s still debatable on what the primary reasons for that were, the most reasonable one is that at the time of the creation of the Bordeaux Classification of 1855, the right bank was still only producing simple wines. On top of that, transporting them to Bordeaux merchants wasn’t an easy task, mainly because they already had a considerable demand in Belgium and other European countries they were very busy with that. Ironically, some of the top right bank wines these days sell for much more than even the First Growths.
The Right Bank wines are a fantastic way to get introduced to the region, with its softer, more refined tannins. In fact, that’s how most wine enthusiasts start their journey with red wine.
If you are having a special occasion, you can expect to pay for a very decent bottle of Red Bordeaux $30 to $40. It pairs best with rich meats, so a steak dinner is the way to go. Against rich and meaty backdrops, the savoury red will taste sweet and fruity!