There are few regions that encompass wine more completely than Bordeaux in France.
If you’re a wine enthusiast, then a visit to this area should certainly be top of your bucket list and there’s plenty to see and do all year round besides discovering all that wine. While you can expect to find plenty of sleepy, exclusive looking chateaus across the region, the Bordeaux wine scene itself is extremely vibrant and continuously innovative in its approach.
Where is it?
Situated on the Gironde and divided by the rivers Garonne and Dordogne, just in from the Atlantic coast, Bordeaux itself is a sprawling city with a host of historical interest. Generally known for its warm climate and bourgeoise lifestyle, there’s no doubt that wine is a big part of the region – head out of the city and you’ll soon come across vast vineyards with grapes ripening slowly in the sun.
The red wine industry in Bordeaux began seriously in the 1800s and has since become legendary among experts and connoisseurs across the world. It accounts for about 90% of the production today though you can still find some interesting Bordeaux whites to tantalise your palate if you look in the right places.
- Most of Bordeaux red wine is made from a blend of two or more grapes.
- Clarets are made from a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
- Where and how the grapes grow dictates the wine – Cabernet Sauvignon grows well in the Medoc while Merlot is usually associated with areas like Saint-Emilion.
The Bordeaux Wine Regions
There are several well-defined areas across the Bordeaux region that produce particular grapes and varieties. The most famous of these are possibly the Medoc and Graves regions, colloquially known as the ‘left bank’ (because of the geographical location compared to the main rivers). Here the soil is gravelly and suitable for grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
The ‘right bank’ comprises areas such as Libourais, known for its red clay soils and bold wines, particularly the Merlot grape. Other areas like Entre-Deux-Mers are better known for producing white wines. Sauternais benefits from the damp conditions of the Garonne River to cultivate some of the sweetest grapes and wines in the world.
Where to Visit in Bordeaux
While you may be there just for the wine, there’s so much to see and do in Bordeaux that you won’t be able to fit it all in one visit. The city itself is a thriving metropolis with historic buildings, galleries and museums. You can’t walk very far without finding a restaurant serving typical French food and some very interesting wines. The river front of the city is normally a hive of activity and a great place to stroll on a summer’s evening.
If you want to begin your wine education in style, then you’ll certainly need to pay a visit to the Cite de Vin on the banks of the Garonne where there’s plenty of tech innovation and over 800 wines to choose from.
For those who want something a little less modern, a trip out of the city centre will soon have you in areas like Saint-Emilion, one of the oldest wine producing towns in the region. If you don’t have your own transport, there’s no need to worry. The central tourism office in the city organises daily tours to local vineyards.
There’s no doubt that if you’re a wine buff, Bordeaux is a great location to spend some time. Just a couple of hours from most locations in the UK by plane, there’s always something going on whatever time of the year you decide to visit.
Discover our tantalising collection of wines from Bordeaux.