Bordeaux is the most famous wine region in the world bar none. Followed avidly by wine enthusiasts and enjoyed by millions of people around the world every day, with everything from cheap table wine to some of the world’s most expensive creations destined for the cellar coming from a large area on the west coast of France.

The whole region is typically thought of in terms of two distinct areas, one north of the Garonne River and the other south. Sometimes they are referred to as the left and right banks. The north or right bank area typically produces wines with more Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the blend. In the south or left bank Cabernet Sauvignon is more likely to dominate. The main reason for this is soil type and how this affects each grape variety. Cabernet Sauvignon favours the gravelly, free-draining soils of the Médoc where the milder temperatures from the nearby ocean help ripen this late developer. In contrast Merlot thrives on the limestone hills and plains of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. It is quicker to ripen so being further inland is not such a problem.

In Bordeaux there is a classification system that varies according to region.

Médoc wine classification(from highest to lowest):

  • Première Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch Lafitte, Ch Latour, Ch Mouton Rothschild, Ch Margaux)
  • Deuxième Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch Rausan-Ségla)
  • Troisième Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch La Lagune)
  • Quatrième Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch Beychevelle)
  • Quinquième Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch Pontet Canet)
  • Cru Bourgeios (e.g. Château de Pâtache d’Aux)
  • Commune (e.g. Pauillac)

Graves/Sauternes wine classification:

  • Première Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch Haut Brion/Ch d’Yquem)
  • Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch Pape-Clément)
  • Commune (e.g. Pessac-Léognan)

Saint-Emilion wine classification:

  • Première Grand Cru Classé (Classe A) (e.g. Ch Ceval Blanc, Ch Ausone)
  • Première Grand Cru Classé (Classe B) (e.g. Ch Figeac)
  • Grand Cru Classé (e.g. Ch Laniote)
  • Grand Cru (e.g. Ch Magnan-Figeac)
  • Commune (e.g. Saint-Emilion)

N.B. Pomerol has no classifications


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