Comprised of over 100,000 hectares of vineyards, Bordeaux and its wines are divided and influenced by the Dordogne and Garonne rivers that seep into the Gironde estuary. The vineyards north of the Dordogne make up the Right Bank, nestled in the middle is the Entre-Deux-Mers, whilst those to the south of the Garonne make up the Left Bank. The latter is divided into two main regions, Medoc and Graves, which themselves are divided into sub-regions and then numerous appellations. It is here that one can find some of the best-known and most desired Chateaux in the world; producing wines that the thrill modern wine collector of now just as much as the centuries of Bordelais enthusiasts that have preceded them.

From North to South

St. Estephe

Working our way down the Left Bank, St. Estephe is the northernmost of the famous appellations on this side of the Garonne. The wines produced here centre around Cabernet Sauvignon, however Merlot is increasing in prominence, for it flourishes on this area’s heavier clay and limestone based soils. The increased use of Merlot helps to soften the wines, for St. Estephe has previous been known for wines that can be austere in their youth. This austerity has not been lost, and has its benefits, for these are wines with excellent longevity. St. Estephe boasts two Second Growth estates – Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Montrose – in addition to other classed estates including the excellent Chateau Calon-Segur.

Pauillac

Considered by many as the most prestigious appellation in the Medoc, Pauillac covers 9 square miles adjacent to the Gironde estuary. Despite its size, its topography rises and falls from the estuary’s banks to a height of 100ft in some places. Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant variety in Pauillac wines, often accounting for up to two thirds of some blends, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenere, Petit Verdot and Malbec also permitted under the appellation’s laws. Its reputation is bolstered by the fact that the appellation is home to three of the five First Growth estates: Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Latour. Wines from the best chateaux in Pauillac are often rich and full in style, with strong ageing capabilities and price performance potential on the fine wine secondary market – in 2021, a Nebuchadnezzar of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2000 sold at auction in Hong Kong for HK$1,091,200, setting a new auction record by over HK$170,000.

St. Julien

Slightly further south we move into the appellation of St. Julien. Unlike its neighbours, St. Julien does not have any First Growth estates. But it is home to some of the iconic Super Seconds, which the savvy Bordeaux buyer knows to offer some of the best price to quality ratios available. The bulk of the appellation’s output comes from its 11 classed growths, each with their own loyal followings. Chateau Leoville Las Cases, Chateau Leoville Poyferre and Chateau Leoville Barton were all once part of a single estate but are now 2nd Grand Cru Classé estates in their own right. Chateau Gruaud Larose and Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou complete the appellation’s Second Growths, with Langoa-Barton, Lagrange, Beychevelle, Branaire Ducru, Talbot and Saint Pierre (which provides grapes for the unclassified Chateau Gloria) completing the appellation’s classed growths list. Almost the entirety of the St. Julien locality is dedicated to vineyards, approximately 900 hectares, which grow the permitted grapes for the estates’ Bordeaux blends.

Margaux

Just north of the city of Bordeaux is Margaux, where there are 21 classed growth estates – more than any other Left Bank appellation. The appellation has a higher proportion of gravel in its soils than Pauillac and St. Estephe, forcing the vines to grower deeper and stronger, ultimately producing wines with a distinctive connection to their terroir. Chateau Margaux is the appellation’s premier estate, being one of the original four first growths in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification. Yet this is not the only famed estate in the appellation, with Chateau Brane Cantenac, Chateau Lascombes, Chateau Rauzan-Segla and Chateau Palmer all too producing exemplary wines year-on-year. The wines, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon based, are known for having wonderful, perfumed bouquets with excellent structure and longevity.

Pessac-Leognan

Beyond the Medoc lies Graves, where the first port of call is the Pessac Leognan appellation. Further south, estates like Chateau d’Yquem produce some of the world’s greatest sweet wines. However, the region is equally known for its dry whites and red wines. Although the appellation of Pessac-Leognan can fly under the radar at times compared to its often-glitzier neighbours and is relatively new, having been created in 1987 from a formerly Graves AOC area. Despite this, winemaking in this area dates back centuries. Upon its formation, the Graves AOC lost many of its top performing Chateaux to the established Pessac-Leognan classification, namely: Chateau Haut Brion, Chateau La Mission Haut Brion and Chateau Pape Clement. The red wines tend to be Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc based, whilst its white wines are mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Here astonishing value can often be found and we highly advise keeping an eye out over the coming campaign.

Interested in learning more about Bordeaux and considering buying En Primeur? Contact our Sales Team today ahead of the upcoming 2022 Campaign.

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