Notes from our Sommelier

History of Bordeaux

The Bordeaux region was first known for its sweet white wines from the Sauternes region.

Thomas Jefferson was a huge fan of these sweet dessert wines. In the 1700s the English loved a rose from the region called “claret” (“klair-ette”). It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that Bordeaux red wines started to gain recognition. The dramatic moment of this transformation was an official decree that classified the top producers of the day. The classification, now deemed “1855 Classification” identified the best producers in the region and ranked them 1 through 5.

White Bordeaux AKA Bordeaux Blanc

A tiny part of Bordeaux’s wine production is dedicated to white wines. These wines are made with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and range from zippy and fresh from places like Entre-Deux-Mers to creamy and lemon curd-like from places like Pessac-Leognan.

Red Grapes of Bordeaux

There are five major red grape varieties in Bordeaux but the first 3 below make up the majority

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Malbec
  • Petit Verdot
The Left vs The Right Bank

A large bay called the Girdone separates the region of Bordeaux into 2 halves the Left Bank and The Right Bank (when looking out towards the ocean)

The Left Bank

Historically the more prestigious Chateaus were located on the Left bank and all of the 1855 classifications occurred here. A majority of Gravel soil the predominant grape used is Cabernet Sauvignon with a small amount of the other grapes blended in. Split into 2 regions The Medoc and Graves, The most prestigious sub-regions in the Médoc include Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Saint–Estephe, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan.

The Right Bank

The Right Bank is known for its dark red clay soil Merlot is dominate here with major sub regions including Pomerol and Saint Emilion

Sauternais Sweet Wines

In the sauternes region morning fog causes the white grapes growing in the area to develop a certain type of fungus called Botrytis. The fungus causes the grapes to shrivel and sweeten making one of the sweetest white wines in the world.