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Bordeaux 101

What is Bordeaux? Bordeaux is the largest wine appellation in France. A Bordeaux blend is made up of at least two of the following grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Here’s a quick Bordeaux cheat sheet.

  • Bordeaux is the largest wine appellation in France. Wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century. Thirteen centuries later, the wine economy of the region pulls in over 14.5 BILLION Euro each year.
  • The red blends of Bordeaux depend greatly on where they’re grown. The Left Bank reds grown on the left bank of the Garonne in regions like Medoc, are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, while Right Bank reds on the right bank of the Dordogne in regions such as Saint-Émilion, are mostly Merlot. Contrary to popular belief, Merlot is actually the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux, not Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • The power players of Bordeaux? Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Château Margaux. The wines from outstanding vintage years from these wineries can fetch thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars.
  • These five grapes are planted all over the world, but fall into the “Bordeaux varietal” category, as they are inherent to the French law that permits Bordeaux varietals to solely be grown in Bordeaux appellations.
  • The word, “Meritage” is used to indicate the Bordeaux style blends that are made out of the Bordeaux region in France.

If you’re looking for a great one, try any of these I’ve tasted in the past months.

Château Lassègue 2012 Les Cadrans Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France ($35)
Smooth and dusty with ripe plum and complex flavors; silky, fresh and balanced; long and juicy. 90 Points

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 2014 Pauillac, France ($149)
Juicy, ripe, tangy and fresh; elegant, long, refined and bright. 92 Points

Pask Winery 2013 Gimblett Gravels, New Zealand ($22)
Smooth herbal nose, fresh and juicy w/tangy acidity, lively, deep and racy; Lively, fresh and clean. 90 Points

Mullan Road Cellars 2014 Columbia Valley ($45)
Classic Bordeaux nose; lush and spicy with ripe, juicy plum and boysenberry fruit; smooth, toasty and balanced with spice, fruit and oak; long and fresh. 92 Points

Gamble Family Vineyards 2013 Paramount, Napa Valley $90
Rich ruby color; smooth and lush with rich plum and deep berries and spice; lovely with generous style and elegant depth; layered and complex with classic structure. 94 Points

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