France: Bordeaux

Bordeaux City and its Négociants

The heart of the City
By Jane Anson

This Guide was last updated on 16 June 2012
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Main wine styles


The reds are blends predominately using Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which complement one another. The proportions used depend on the soil and the style of wine to be made. Cabernet Sauvignon provides a good tannic structure while Merlot adds suppleness. Pessac-Léognan reds have distinctive aromas of minerals, or even smoke. Traditional wines show generous character, suppleness with finesse and good aging potential. Certain more modern styles, influenced by various winemaking consultants and by critics may have a riper, bigger more upfront character that is easier to appreciate when young. Classic quality Bordeaux wines are aged in oak barrels – the barrique bordelais containing 225 litres.


Excellent dry whites are produced from blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grown on sandier soils. The quality has improved immensely over recent years due to the investment in new technology, and the use of new oak. The whites, which may undergo both fermentation and maturation in barrel, develop rich aromatic notes accompanied by flowery tones, and can take up to ten years to mature. There are also some fine, modern, crisper styles.


Bordeaux clairets and rosés are made by macerating red grape varieties for a short time. Both are fresh and fruity, clairets have a more intense colour. Very little is produced though it is increasing.

Sparkling Wines

Crémant de Bordeaux is mainly white with a little rosé, generally Brut. It can offer good value for money.

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