Bordeaux wines are famous for full-bodied red wine blends tasting of dark fruit and spices, dry white wines with tropical fruit, and luscious sweet wines.
Bordeaux labels wines by sub-region and you'll find a total of 53 named appellations here. Each appellation has its own microclimate, soil types, and wine styles. With that many appellations, it can be hard to know where to look!
Fortunately, we can look at the wine regions of Bordeaux through their major wine styles and general location to navigate through the region (and find your next bottle!).
Bordeaux Wine Region Facts
- There are 53 appellations within Bordeaux with 65 different wine styles.
- The Dordogne and Garonne Rivers meet north of the city of Bordeaux and form the Gironde Estuary - this creates the concept of "left bank" and "right bank" in Bordeaux.
- The metropolitan population of Bordeaux is almost 800,000 people; it's the 6th largest city in France. So, if you travel there, be ready for city life!
- The Bordeaux wine region is quite large at 271 816 acres of vineyards—that’s nearly seven times the size of Washington DC!
- Bordeaux has a temperate maritime climate – don't be surprised to experience humidity and rain in the summer.
- By the way, before Bordeaux made wine, it was settled by Celtic tribes in 300 BC and known as Burdigala.
Bordeaux Wine Label Secrets
Wines are labeled by wine region, not grape variety. “Grand Vin de Bordeaux” means it’s the winery’s best wine. If you see the words “Grand Cru Classé” or “Cru Classé” - that’s a really special and probably quite expensive wine that’s meant for cellaring.
Médoc "Left Bank"
Ripe blackberry, cassis, mint, leather and smoke flavors with structured and powerful tannins and a deep color. The Médoc is where some of the most famous wineries in Bordeaux are situated - with gravelly soils.
This area is famous for its age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends and the 1855 classification by Napoleon of the Grands Crus Classés.
Libournais "Right Bank"
Smooth and ripe tannins, full bodied red wines with chocolate, ripe plum, violets, black cherry and smoke flavors.
The other iconic powerhouse in Bordeaux lies across the Gironde estuary around the city of Libourne - also known as the “Right Bank”, some of the world’s most famous wineries are situated here.
Pomerol and Saint-Émilion are the most talked about sub-regions in this area. Expect to find age worthy Merlot and Cabernet Franc blends on the region's clay-mixed soils.
Graves and Pessac-Léognan
Silky, elegant, yet powerful Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant red wines with a mixture of red cherry, cassis, mint and spice, many of which are cellar-worthy.
There are also tropical fruited, vanilla scented, dry white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon with linear and fresh acidity, also meant for your cellar. Graves and Pessac-Léognan is the only Bordeaux appellation with world renowned red and white wines.
Sauternes and Sweet Wines
Intense aromas of dried apricots, fresh honey, marmalade, orange peel, roasted nuts and spice fill the glass, and their golden color is very eye-catching.
Some of the world’s finest sweet wines are made in Sauternes - using botrytis-affected Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, this region produces cellar worthy sweet wines.
Refreshing and zesty lemon and lime wines with grassy notes - perfect for a warm summer’s day. Between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers lies Entre-Deux-Mers - specialising in dry white wines, many of which are made from Sauvignon Blanc.
Bourg and Blaye
Ripe plum, cherry, spice and chocolate with smooth tannins and a fruity edge. If you’re looking for high quality Merlot dominant red wines but also looking for a great bargain then check out Blaye and Bourg.
There are many appellations within this region that produce age-worthy wines but at a fraction of the cost of some of the better known regions.
Within the region of Bordeaux you'll find several special classifications on bottle labels. In fact, there are five different cru classification systems used throughout the region!
What's interesting to note is that all of the systems have tremendous wineries within them, so it's a great way to find high quality wines.