The confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers dissects Bordeaux into the Left Bank, Entre-Deux-Mers, and the Right Bank, each of which have their own distinct characteristics. The northerly Right Bank is home to some of Bordeaux’s finest and most expensive wines that are enjoyed the world over. The Right Bank’s headline appellations are Saint Emilion and Pomerol, but this area also encompasses a further seven appellations where excellent wines are sure to be found.

Along the Dordogne

Saint Emilion

Named after the appellation’s central town, Saint Emilion is one of the largest producers of wine by volume in all of Bordeaux – often producing more than 250,000hl per vintage. Saint Emilion can be divided into three with regard to the appellation’s soil types. Firstly, located around the town of Saint Emilion is the appellation’s famous limestone plateau. Second, in the northwest of the appellation, is an ancient alluvial terrace, known as the Graves de Saint Emilion, where Gunzian gravel is found – the very same as in best Chateaux in the Medoc and Graves. Finally, as one moves down the slopes towards the banks of the Dordogne, alluvial sandy soils are present and fewer vines are grown here.

Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the favoured varieties in Saint Emilion; although the appellations laws do allow the use of the other traditional Bordeaux grapes they are rarely used in significant quantities. Chateau Figeac is an exception, where Cabernet Sauvignon joins Merlot and Cabernet Franc in equal proportions both in the vineyard and the wine.

Amongst the most prominent Chateaux in Saint Emilion, if not Bordeaux as a whole, is Chateau Cheval Blanc. Rated as Premier Grand Cru Classe (A) in the 1955 Saint Emilion Classification, the estate withdrew from this ranking system in 2021 along with Chateau Ausone and Chateau Angelus. Another highly regarded Saint Emilion estate is Chateau Pavie, which alongside the aforementioned Chateaux has a loyal following for their remarkable wines. Saint Emilion’s popularity is no surprise given its top wines can be some of the most long-lived and expensive wines from anywhere in the world.

Immediately to the northeast of Saint Emilion are the appellation’s ‘satellites’. These are appellations in their own right, covering small and unique areas, but carry the Saint Emilion name in their titles: Montagne-Saint-Emilion, Lussac-Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion and Saint-Georges-Saint-Emilion.

Pomerol

Unlike Saint Emilion and many other appellations in Bordeaux, Pomerol is not named after a town or village within its boundaries. It equally differentiates itself from other appellations as it does not adhere to any formal classification system and the landscape is mostly free from grandiose Chateaux. Instead, Pomerol has secured its world class reputation through the production of exceedingly high quality wines. Revered names like Le Pin, Lafleur and Petrus are synonymous with such standards and frequently command higher prices than many cru classe estates on the Left Bank.

Pomerol is to the west of Saint Emilion and shares in the riches brought by the soils of the Graves de Saint Emilion. Here, the vineyards of Le Pin and Petrus are at a higher elevation than the rest of the appellation and have soils with greater proportions of clay on which Merlot flourishes, helping to produce their world-class wines.

In addition to these impressive appellations, the Right Bank is also home to a further seven appellations, namely Cotes de Blaye, Cotes de Bourg, Fronsac, Canon-Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol, Francs Cotes de Bordeaux and Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux.

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