The Bordeaux region is one of the greatest wine producing regions of France. It is home to some of France’s greatest vineyards such as Château Lafite-Rothschild, some of the greatest wines such as Pomerol or Sauternes and one of France’s great wine villages, St Emilion.
There is also a great variety of wine produced in this area ranging from white wines that can be drunk young from Entre Deux Mers, sweet white wines from the Sauternes or Loupiac areas that can be laid down for many years, to full bodied reds from the Médoc, St Emilion or Pomerol regions. There are also excellent outlying areas such as Côte de Bourg, Côte de Blaye and Bergerac which produce superb wines at very competitive prices.
Bordeaux Fine Wines, official website: http://www.bordeaux.com/us
Great Bordeaux wines
The classiest wines are to be found in the Médoc on the South bank of the Gironde estuary. Here there are world renowned vineyards to be found such as Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Clos d’Estournel and many others. At these exclusive vineyards it is not so easy to just turn up on spec to taste wine. Better to ring ahead. And expect to pay for the privilege. All these wines take many years to mature so patience is required!
Arguably the best of the best Bordeaux vineyards are in the Margaux region, also on the south bank of the Gironde, covering the villages of Margaux, Cantenac, Soussans, Arsac and Labarde. Here, quality control is at its highest, there are no co-operatives and wine may not be sold without a certificate of quality conformance issued by a tasting panel!
By complete contrast on the north bank of the Gironde are the appellations of Côte de Blaye and Côte de Bourg where there are many small producers willing to provide dégustation without charge and without pre-booking. The red wines from this area are very affordable and yet still pleasant and of a high quality. We purchased some lovely wine at the grandly named “Château Grand Renard” which can be found on the D18 just south of St Ciers-sur-Gironde.
Heading south of Bordeaux following the Garonne river you find the Graves region which produces predominantly white wines. In the far south east of this region is the small area producing Sauternes and Loupiac wine. These are excellent desert wines.
Between the two great rivers of Garonne and Dordogne you have the Entre Deux Mers region which again produces predominantly white wines.
North of the Dordogne you have the St Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac areas which produce excellent red wines that compete quality wise with the best Médoc vintages.
Favourite Bordeaux wines
- “Chateau Grand Renard” which can be found on the D18 just south of St Ciers-sur-Gironde. We rate this 1992 red “Grand Vin de Bordeaux” highly because although it only cost the equivalent of £4 a bottle, every single person we’ve shared it with has commented that it is the nicest red they have ever tasted.
Visits to Vineyards and museums
To learn more about the wine growing tradition of this area we recommend that you visit one of the wine museums. There are many examples, but one of the most fascinating is at the Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac. Other options are the Musée du Vin either in Bergerac or Bordeaux.
Unquestionably the one place you must visit in the Bordeaux area is St Emilion. This wine producing village, classed as a world heritage site, is surrounded on all sides by acre upon acre of vineyard. And the town itself is a real architectural gem with historical roots established more than 1200 years ago!
St Emilion’s maison du vin and the tourist information offices can provide you with information booklets on the region’s vineyards, alternatively you can book to join one of the tourist information office’s guided afternoon tours. In fact you are recommended to join the tourist office’s guided tour as there are some parts of the village that cannot be seen any other way. Or you can just wander through the streets of St Emilion and try your luck in one or two of the towns cellars.
Wines in the Vendée
Yes they do exist! OK this is not part of the more famous Bordeaux area, but it’s close by and well worth a visit, especially if you’re staying in the Vendée or Charente.
Follow the Route du Vin around Mareuil ~8km north of Luçon in the direction of La Roche-sur-Yon. For an excellent & generous dégustation visit le Chateau de Rosnay (pictured left), Route-de-Mareuil, 85320 Rosnay (Tel: +33 (0)2 51 30 59 06). The chateau was built in 1860 by Msr Guyet, an important wine grower in the region. Since 1948 it has been in the ownership of the Jard family and offers a selection of beautifully presented white, rosé and red wines of excellent quality. We purchased a number of bottles to take home and they were all consumed within a few months! The chateau is open for dégustation daily from 9AM – noon and 2-6PM except Sundays and publicholidays.
Looking for something stroner?! Then we highly recommend a visit to the Boutique of the distillery H. Vignaud et fils in Luçon (1 Place Pichelieu, 85400 Luçon). You can’t visit the distillery itself but you’ll be able to enjoy tasting the fare on offer including beautifully presented Pastis and the award winning Kamok liquer (like a cross between and expensive brandy and espresso coffee). Apparently 3 different coffees are blended in this delightful tipple! Tel: 02 51 56 11 48.
Bordeaux wine specific websites
- Medoc wines website: http://www.medoc-wines.com/
- Château Queyret-Pouillac website: http://www.queyret-pouillac.com/
Our favourite food and wine in France: