An Introduction To Bordeaux Wine

(Last Updated On: June 2, 2020)

The majority of Bordeauxs are red, and are a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Learn more about this French wine in this introduction to Bordeaux wines.
Intro To Bordeaux Wines

An Introduction To Bordeaux Wine

While there are red Bordeauxs and white Bordeauxs, the name is usually associated with the red wine blend, in fact over 90% of Bordeauxs are red.  Red Bordeaux is a wine that is made from blending Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon together.

Bordeaux wine is from Bordeaux, France and are medium to full-bodied red wines. You will find aromas of plums, black currant, and earthy notes of gravel. With your first sip you will experience the dark fruit and mineral notes that lead into mouth-drying tannins. The tannins in Bordeauxs are often high enough that wines can age for decades.

Store Bordeauxs below room temperature, around 65 °F, in fact, you should store all your red wines below 65 °F. Before serving this wine, you should decant it or at least open it and let it breathe for 30 minutes before pouring.

You will find that Red Bordeaux is actually a fairly affordable red wine, much less than some Cabs. You can spend $25–$30 for an excellent bottle of Bordeaux.

Most red wines pair well with meat and Bordeaux is no different, however you do want enough fat to counteract high levels of tannins. Here are some meats that will pair nicely with a Red Bordeaux; venison, pork roast, beef brisket, duck, dark turkey meat and steak.

Introduction To Bordeaux

History of Bordeaux Wines Classifications

It all started when Napolean III decided that France needed a classification system for Bordeaux’s wines. The classification system would be designed to rank the best of Bordeaux’s wines and would be applied in time for the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris. Wine brokers then ranked the wines by quality – with first growths ranked as high, and fifth growths ranked as low. The brokers based their decisions on a chateau’s reputation and trading price.

First Growth Classified Clout

Since then, this ranking system has largely determined how much money Bordeaux chateaus could charge for their wines and set up an advantage for those chateaus who had the money and clout to market their wines.

The favored first growth chateaus of Medoc, a region of Bordeaux:
Chateau Lafite-Rothschild
Chateau Margaux
Chateau Latour
Chateau Haut-Brion
Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (which was upgraded from second to first growth in 1973)

These first-growth Bordeaux represent some of the most expensive wines on the planet.

Bordeaux Wine Critics

Peter M. F. Sichel, the owner of Fourcas-Hosten, a Cru Bourgeois Supérieur in Listrac, states: “The old system has held up pretty well, though any objective examination would not assign, in a number of cases, the same numerical classification to the classified growths today.”

He goes on to say that, “The classified growths are still the best wines, with very few exceptions, made in the Médoc, as they were in 1855,” Sichel says. “There should also be a periodic reassessment of the classifications, to enable some Cru Bourgeois to move up, and classified wines that have deteriorated to move out.”

According to New York Times, Americans buy by the numbers, and the numbers he refers to are the critic’s numbers. He muses that for the next 150 years, scholars can decide if the 1855 classification system influenced wine guru Robert Parker’s 100 point grading system.

A Bit About The Complex Ranking System

There are many who believe the system is in need of a complete overhaul, or at the very least, tweaked a bit.

One of the problems is that the system has evolved into an exceedingly complex tangle of wine classifications that often leaves the average wine consumer baffled. Currently, around 7000 winemakers use over 12,000 chateau names to classify their wines.

The government is trying to simplify the complex labeling system and make it easier for the consumer to understand. Winemakers in Bordeaux have been told to stop using several different chateau names for the same wine that has been bottled at the same property.

A spokesperson for the Federation des Syndicats des Grands Vins de Bordeaux (FGVB) stated that “A chateau may use only one name, with the possibility of a second if it can be proved it was in use before 1983.”

Many winemakers want to use premier chateaus labels on their Bordeaux wine because it would bring them more prestige and more money.

Have you had Bordeaux? What is one of your favorite red wines?

Introduction To Bordeaux Wine

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