I was recently in Bordeaux for a press trip courtesy of the Bordeaux Wines council. A great trip focusing on the great things that are happening in Bordeaux away from the Grand Cru Classés that everyone thinks is all Bordeaux is about. On that trip we headed up to Canon Fronsac, on Bordeaux’s right bank, to see Chloe and Axel, a girlfriend and boyfriend team rejuvenating Château Mazeris-Bellevue. How did they get this switched on at this age? I’ve no idea! Wonderful pair, super talented, and neither too bad on the eye either 😉
Half way through this quick look at the basics of Bordeaux and I swear this is the last geography lesson. I just always found it useful to know roughly where everything is, helps when you’re linking one place to a wine and viceversa.
Recognise this map yet?
So over on the Right Bank you’ve got St Émilion, Pomerol, and Fronsac, and also more wine from the wider named Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur.
The wines of St Émilion are reds. These are a series of vineyards located around the village of the same name. The better wines can apply for what’s known as Grand Cru status. This roughly means they follow stricter guidelines on production and quality of product.
Dotted around St Émilion are what are known as the satellite areas. These are villages that are outside the main St Émilion vineyards, but can put their village name before St Émilion on the bottle:
Lussac – St Émilion
Montagne – St Émilion
Puisseguin – St Émilion
Saint-Georges – St Émilion
These are usually slightly cheaper alternatives and not a bad way to get drinking the wines of this area without breaking the bank.
Talking of breaking the bank, the village of Pomerol lives a bit further north. The wines here use the same grapes and roughly the same techniques as St Émilion. The differences are the soils, and size of the vineyards. They’re much smaller. Rarity is bitch in this case, cos it means Pomerols tend to be pretty high priced.
The satellite of Pomerol is Lalande de Pomerol.
Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac are to the west of the main right bank town of Liborne. Again, grape varieties and techniques are the same, so although never quite blow-your-mind amazing compared to other wines, they’re another fantastic (and usually much cheaper) alternative of right bank reds.
Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur are more generic appellations and in all honesty can be a bit hit and miss. Get a good one though and stick with it (my man Il Chateau at Petit-Palais!!). They’ll be some of the best value for money in the whole region.
For anyone thinking of a trip out to Bordeaux to visit vineyards, taste wines, go harvesting (god forbid!) then I’d have to say the Right Bank is probably the place to do it. It’s not that one side of the river they’re ar$eholes and the other they’re not. It’s more that you get more family holdings on the right bank, a bit less corporate (although no less business minded). It’s slightly more personal. That’s just the impression I got anyway.
Right, no more maps for a while now. I promise.