Bordeaux Wines Guide

Your Sommelier's Bordeaux Wine Guide

Though the first traces of viticulture in Bordeaux date back to the 1st century, it is truly from the 12th century that the Bordeaux vineyard became what it is today. After the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to the future King of England, Henry II, Bordeaux became an English city and encouraged commercial exchanges and wine export to England. Although England only represented 10% of Bordeaux’s exports in the 17th century, it helped promote fine wines that were very popular among London’s high society. Despite the damages caused by the phylloxera - the epidemy that destroyed all French vineyards in the 1860’s, which required the replanting of vines from American varieties more resistant to disease - Bordeaux experienced a long period of prosperity from the 19th century with the famous 1855 Classification for Médoc and Sauternes. Additional classifications appeared later: Crus Bourgeois in 1932, Graves in 1953 and Saint-Emilion in 1954.

Although competition from other areas of the world has increased tremendously in the last 2 decades, Bordeaux premium winemakers have heavily invested in their vineyards and production techniques to ensure their wines remain a reference among high-end wines. The Bordeaux vineyard is split into two main areas: the left bank of the Garonne River (Médoc, Graves...) well known for its long ageing Cabernet Sauvignon “Cru Classés”, and the right bank where Merlot is the main grape (Saint-Emilion, Pomerol...).

Appellations & Classifications

Appellations represents a village or a specific area whereas Classifications rank the Châteaux for the quality of their wines. Every wine made in the region is part of an appellation - the most generic being AOC Bordeaux - but is not necessarily included in a Classification.


Left Bank AOC

Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac, Moulis, Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux

Graves, Pessac-Léognan, Cérons, Barsac, Sauternes


Left Bank Classifications

1855 Classification Médoc & Sauternes, Crus Classés de Graves, Crus Bourgeois du Médoc

Right Bank AOC

Côtes de Blaye, Côtes de Bourg, Entre-Deux-Mers, Castillon-Côtes-de-Bordeaux... etc

Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Fronsac, Canon Fronsac... etc


Right Bank Classifications

Grand Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion


Most Bordeaux are a blend of different grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot.


The most common grape in Bordeaux, it gives wine colour, flexibility and aromas of red fruits like plum and fig. After a few years in bottle, it can free up nice toasted notes.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Other traditional grape of the region, it gives wine structure, strong tannins and aromas of black fruit such as blackcurrant or liquorice and over time, as well as the smoothness of undergrowth hints.

Cabernet Franc

It is the perfect complementary grape to Merlot. It brings freshness, smoothness and aromatic complexity with aromas of raspberry and violet.

Sauvignon Blanc

Ideal grape for dry white wines, it gives acidity and aromas of citrus, boxwood and fig leaf.


Ideal grape for dry white wines, it gives acidity and aromas of citrus, boxwood and fig leaf.

Key Figures

Surface: 117,000 ha
Winemakers: 9,820
Production: 450m bottles

Find more information on the region and its wines on the official website of the region or on Wikipedia

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