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Dating back to 2000 years ago and rising up from the confluence of two great rivers, called the wine capital, Bordeaux is home to some of the world’s most prestigious estates and most sought after wines, a region that has always been and continues to be a source of inspiration to most winemakers around the globe.
Bordeaux doesn’t need any introduction.
However, what many don’t know is that the premium and super premium wines only account for an extremely tiny portion of the production (2%!) and so, it turns out that Bordeaux is not only the world’s most popular and influential wine region but it’s also the largest wine producing region in France and the second-largest on the planet!
Let me give you some numbers to have a clearer understanding of this: 120000 ha under vine, 13000 growers, 7500 producers, 10000 labels, 57 appellations, 65 million cases and 2.5 billion of Euros of Bordeaux wine produced every year; 1.5% of the entire world’s wine comes from Bordeaux!
I ended up taking part in Vinexpo Bordeaux years ago and I still consider it one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
I was in Bielorussia, leading a wine training course in a fancy restaurant, when my boss called from Italy informing me that I wasn’t going home the day after, I was flying to Bordeaux, as he had managed to get a booth at Vinexpo, one of the most respected wine exhibitions. At first I got annoyed but then I arrived in Bordeaux and it exceeded all my expectations. I fell in love with the city and I absolutely enjoyed every single bit of the trip: tasting amazing wines with the producers and learning about their background, having a stroll around the romantic landscape with stunning chateaux and wineries lining the countryside, drinking a cocktail on the terrace of Le Gabriel, a gastro restaurant on Place de la Bourse, buying oysters from the Riverside fresh market, going window shopping in rue Sainte Catherine and tasting Caneles and other regional specialities, of course always accompanied by my old French friends Laurent and Francois I met in Macau years before during another wine event.
What I personally like about Bordeaux is the diversity of its environment which gives a broad range of wines (from age worthy reds to easy drinking reds, from fresh whites and oaky whites, from later harvest to botrytised dessert wines) that will satisfy every wine lover for every occasion, while offering a wide price range.
Although Bordeaux was originally admired for its sweet white wines from the sub-region of Sauternes, over 90% of Bordeaux wines are now red – the red Bordeaux blend is one of the most imitated around the world and includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Bordeaux is not an easy region to navigate and often consumers feel lost and find it hard to understand which wines are worthy of attention, if the price reflects the quality and if the wines need extra time in the bottle or can be approachable now. That’s why we are here, to do the job and find it out for you!
Most of the wine connoisseurs will tell you that the more you spend the better it is, but after trying a reasonably high amount of Bordeaux wines, I found that this is not necessarily true and there are very good examples out there that are surprisingly affordable and don’t need a special occasion to be drunk.
This week I selected 4 wines for you to explore some of the sub regions and their differences in terms of taste.
Medoc and Graves, from the left bank, known for its gravelly soils and Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wines, Saint Emilion, from the right bank, known for its red clay soils that produce bold plummy red wines with a dominance of Merlot.
The wines I selected are from two very interesting vintages as well (yes, vintage is extremely important in Bordeaux!): 2018, a year that received the utmost care and attention to produce wines of beautiful concentration and outstanding quality, and 2016 a remarkable season with better than ideal climate conditions ensuring exceptional grape quality and ripe, rounded wines.
Hopefully, you’ve been inspired to pick up a bottle or two to taste what Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot taste like from their homeland–they’re quite unique!
This cuvée is made from a one-hectare plot of old vine Merlot situated in the commune of Montagne-Saint-Emilion, one of the most beautiful terroirs of Bordeuax’s Right Bank, and it represents the purity of the grape variety. Planted on sandy – clay soils in coversion to organic viticulture, the grapes are coming from 80 year old vines and are hand harvested and carefully selected. The nose is very expressive with ripe raspberry, cherry and blackcurrants aromas with just a touch of vanilla, toast and cinnamon notes Son of a warm vintage on the palate is well-structured, richly dense with silky and generous tannins and a touch of freshness. Drink now but will give its best from 2022.
Chateau Villefranche is recognised as one of the oldest wine estates in the Graves region with the Guinabert family tending the vines since the 17th Century. Located near the Ciron stream, the estate extends over to the Haut-Barsac plateau and is mainly known for sweet wines. After centuries of making stunning Sauternes stickys Henri Guinabert decided to make his own red wine and so created this supple and fulsome blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot - fragrant and satisfying. This wine showes ripe red fruit, dark plum, vanilla, nutmeg and licorice on the nose and a palate that is rich, full of red berry notes and an excellent structure. Who said Bordeaux's had to be expensive - you'll find great value in this AOC Graves red wine at just over $20.
Chateau Loudenne Medoc is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. A wine of exquisite fragrance with blueberries, black plums, and cherries accompanied by subtle earth, oak, licorice, black pepper, clove, dry herbs and pencil notes. On the palate it’s plush, full bodied yet smooth with medium acidity, fine grained elegant tannins and long finish. This is a superb red Bordeaux from a great vintage. Approachable now, will be magnificent in 3 to 5 years time.
As is always the case with Pierre Lafon, not a man known for a lot of talking so he just lets his wine do it all for him. Most of you will be familiar with this stunning Bordeaux, one of the first imports of Accent on Wine over 20 years ago. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, medium to full bodied with lovely lush and rounded tannins, concentrated and just beautifully balanced. For a Bordeaux Superior it punches well above its weight, it has power, concentration and depth with a lovely middle palate and beautiful finish. You could easily pay double for a wine of this quality. Drink now or over the next 5-6 years.
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We hope you enjoy the wines we have carefully selected for your cellar. All our wines are personally tasted by the team at Accent on Wine, to ensure you only get the best quality. If for any reason you don't like the wines you buy from us send them back for a full replacement or refund.