France: Bordeaux

Northern Médoc

The wines of Saint Julien, Pauillac and Saint Estèphe
By Jane Anson

This Guide was last updated on 05 March 2010
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Main wine styles

Reds

These are blends using predominately 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. Traditionally made wines show generous character, suppleness with finesse and good ageing potential. On the nose there are dark fruit aromas (blackcurrant and blackberry) and those wines that are aged in oak (the vast majority of the top AC wines) – traditionally the barrique bordelaise containing 225l – develop vanilla and roasted coffee notes. On the palate traditional reds have evident tannins which soften with age. Certain more modern styles, influenced by the New World or by oenologists such as Michel Rolland, have a riper, bigger more up-front character that is easier to appreciate when the wines are young.

Whites

Although the quantity produced is small, the dry whites can be good, and have improved in quality in recent years. The result is fresh, fruity wines with hints of citrus and exotic fruits, those spending time in oak develop luscious, rich qualities.

Rosés

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.

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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