Bordeaux is the top wine region in the world. Not just  legendary and cultural, it also produces the top wines. These wines serve as the benchmark for all others.

Bordeaux is an Eighteenth Century architectural and cultural gem. The city by that name has 600,000 residents and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the largest urban entity to be so honoured. But history and architecture are only the beginning. The city is attractive, cosmopolitan and vibrant. The Bordelaise know how to live! They have a passion for life, food and wine. Ah yes, the wine! The city is in the center of the wine region by the same name.

Make the city your home base as you launch out to visit the various wine appellations within it. Bordeaux is easily reached directly by high speed train or by air from Paris and about 20 other European cities. The fast train takes about 3 hours; the flight about 1 hour from Paris.

The Wine Region

Radiating out from the city are the wine regions. To the North lies the Médoc, to the east are Entre-deux-Mers and St. Emilion and to the south are Sauternes and Graves. These are among the most famous of the 57 wine appellations. Enjoy the photo albums at left to get a visual sense of the region.

The Wines

Bordeaux wines are delicious and oh-so-rewarding to discover, it’s worth it to spend some time understanding them. It’s simple, really. A good red Bordeaux is essentially a “Cabernet-Merlot” in a tuxedo. This varies by appellation, but they’re usually a blend.  Blending varietals could also include Cabernet Franc, Malbec or small amounts of Petit Verdot.

The photo is of Chateau Margaux, the most famous wine estate in Margaux Appellation.

Margaux_exterior
The iconic Chateau Margaux

Left bank wines (as you face the mouth of the river) have higher concentrations of Cabernet Sauvignon, right bank wines have more Merlot…

There are also wonderful dry white wines (usually a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc). And for a liquid gold experience, enjoy the white dessert wines of Sauternes. They are rich, thick and complex. Across the river from there, you can also find rewarding counterparts in Sainte Croix du Mont and Cadillac.

by The Wine Baron

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The following info is the “in depth” stuff …


BORDEAUX WINE CLASSIFICATIONS

BORDEAUX 1855 CLASSIFICATION

In 1855 the leading brokers of Bordeaux created a rating system that identified the top wines.  The châteaux that made it into this exclusive list were from the Médoc, Sauternes and Barsac. And Château Haut-Brion from Graves was included because of its popularity.

The five rank levels were based on the market values of the wines.  Sauternes and Barsac received two tiers. Château d’Yquem was recognized as above the rest.  The classification system remains virtually the same as in 1855.

The ongoing pursuit of excellence in Bordeaux has led to the emergence of an informal new group called “Super-Seconds” which are châteaux that produce wines of such quality that they rival those off the First Growths.  They include Palmer, two Pichons, Lynch-Bages, Léoville-Las-Cases and Barton, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Cos, and Montrose.

Premier Crus Classés (First Growths)

Château Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac
Château Latour, Pauillac
Château Margaux, Margaux
Château Haut-Brion, Pessac, Graves
Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac (since 1973)

Deuxièmes Crus Classés (Second Growths)

Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux
Château Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux
Château Léoville-Las-Cases, St. Julien
Château Léoville-Poyferré, St. Julien
Château Léoville-Barton, St. Julien
Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux
Château Lascombes, Margaux
Château Gruaud-Larose, St. Julien
Château Brane-Cantenac, Cantenac-Margaux
Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac
Château Pichon Lalande, Pauillac
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien
Château Cos d’Estournel, St. Estèphe
Château Montrose, St. Estèphe

Troisièmes Crus Classés (Third Growths)

Château Giscours, Labarde-Margaux
Château Kirwan, Cantenac-Margaux
Château d’Issan, Cantenac-Margaux
Château Lagrange, St. Julien
Château Langoa-Barton, St. Julien
Château Malescot St. Exupéry, Margaux
Château Cantenac-Brown, Cantenac-Margaux
Château Palmer, Cantenac-Margaux
Château La Lagune, Ludon-Haut-Médoc
Château Desmirail, Margaux
Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
Château Ferrière, Margaux
Château Marquis d’Alesme-Beker, Margaux
Château Boyd-Cantenac, Cantenac-Margaux

Quatrièmes Crus Classés (Fourth Growths)

Château St.Pierre, St. Julien
Château Branaire, St. Julien
Château Talbot, St. Julien
Château Duhart-Milon, Pauillac
Château Pouget, Cantenac-Margaux
Château La Tour-Carnet, St. Laurent-Haut-Médoc
Château Lafon-Rochet, St. Estèphe
Château Beychevelle, St. Julien
Château Prieuré-Lichine, Cantenac-Margaux
Château Marquis-de-Terme, Margaux

Cinquièmes Crus Classés (Fifth Growths)

Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Château Batailley, Pauillac
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac
Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Pauillac
Château Haut-Batailley, Pauillac
Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Château Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac
Château Dauzac, Labarde-Margaux
Château Mouton-Baronne-Philippe (now d’Armailhacq), Pauillac
Château du Tertre, Arsac-Margaux
Château Haut-Bages-Libéral, Pauillac
Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac
Château Belgrave, St. Laurent-Haut-Médoc
Château de Camensac, St. Laurent-Haut-Médoc
Château Cos Labory, St. Estèphe
Château Clerc-Milon-Rothschild, Pauillac
Château Croizet-Bages, Pauillac
Château Cantemerle, Macau-Haut-Médoc

Cru Bourgeois

The Crus Bourgeois are those châteaux in the Médoc that are ranked as not having quite the quality of the châteaux of the 1855 Classification.  This system identifies the châteaux that produce wines of proper local character and quality, but not necessarily with the finesse of their more lofty counterparts.

There are three categories: Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, Cru Grand Bourgeois and Cru Bourgeois, but only the latter designation is acceptable on the label.

SAUTERNES-BARSAC

Premier Cru Supérieur (Superior First Growth )

Château d’Yquem

Premier Crus Classés (First Growths)

Château Guiraud
Clos Haut-Peyraguey
Château La Tour Blanche
Château Coutet
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Château Climens
Château de Rayne Vigneau
Château Suduiraut
Château Sigalas Rabaud
Château Rieussec
Château Rabaud-Promis

Deuxièmes Crus Classés (Second Growths)

Château d’Arche
Château Suau
Château Filhot
Château Broustet
Château Lamothe Guignard
Château Caillou
Château de Myrat
Château Nairac
Château Doisy-Védrines
Château de Malle
Château Doisy-Daëne
Château Romer

GRAVES CLASSIFICATION

A one tier classification. Château Haut-Brion also appears on this list. Historical note: Haut-Brion was founded by the de Pontac family, but was lost to one of Napoleon’s ministers. All the wines are graded together and alphabetically.

Classified Red Wines of Graves

Château Bouscaut, Cadaujac
Château Haut-Bailly, Léognan
Château Carbonnieux, Léognan
Domaine de Chevalier, Léognan
Château de Fieuzal, Léognan
Château Olivier, Léognan
Malartic-Lagravière, Léognan
Château La Tour-Martillac, Martillac
Château Smith-Haute-Lafitte, Martillac
Château Haut-Brion, Pessac
Château La Mission-Haut-Brion, Talence
Château Pape-Clément, Pessac
Château Latour-Haut-Brion, Talence

Classified White Wines of Graves

Château Bouscaut, Cadaujac
Château Carbonnieux, Léognan
Domaine de Chevalier, Léognan
Château Olivier, Léognan
Malartic-Lagravière, Léognan
Château La Tour-Martillac, Martillac
Château Laville-Haut Brion, Talence
Château Couhins-Lurton, Vilenave d`Ornan
Château Couhins, Vilenave d`Ornan
Château Haut-Brion, Pessac (added in 1960)

ST. EMILION 1995 CLASSIFICATION

Initially created in 1995, this system is regularly amended.

The Classifications:

There are two main classifications:

Premier Grands Cru Classés (A & B)
Grands Cru Classés

There is also a “Grand Cru” that is awarded to properties below Grand Cru Classés status – over 500 Châteaux

The St. Emilion list is revised every 10 years. The last change was in 2006.

Premiers Grands Crus Classés (A)

Château Ausone
Château Cheval Blanc

Premiers Grands Crus Classés (B)

Château Angélus
Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse)
Château Beau-Séjour-Bécot
Château Belair
Château Canon
Château Figeac
Château La Gaffelière
Château Magdelaine
Château Pavie
Château Pavie-Macquin
Château Troplong-Mondot
Château Trottevieille
Clos Fourtet

Grands Cru Classés

There are more than 50 properties.

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT PÉTRUS

Pomerol has no classification system.  But Château Pétrus from this appellation is popularly recognized as a First Growth in quality.

by The Wine Baron

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