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    【Wine 101】The Beginner’s Guide to Bordeaux Wines | Watson's Wine

    【Wine 101】The Beginner’s Guide to Bordeaux Wines

    Have you ever heard of the five First-Growths or Château Lafite-Rothschild 1982? All these world-famous wineries are from Bordeaux! If you want to learn more about Bordeaux Wines, you should not miss this beginner’s guide!

    Difference between Left Bank and Right Bank area

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    The Bordeaux region is naturally divided by the Gironde Estuary into Left Bank and Right Bank area. You can find key wine producing regions like Médoc and Graves on the Left Bank, and St. Emilion and Pomerol on the Right Bank. The split is attributed to the soil composition on each side of the river, in which both favour the growth of one grape variety over the other.

    Left Bank – Cabernet Sauvignon

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    The soil in the Left Bank is primarily gravelly with excellent drainage. Cabernet Sauvignon, which grows very well in gravelly soil, is the dominant grape variety of Left Bank. In the winemaking process, Cabernet Sauvignon is usually blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and a little Malbec and Petit Verdot.

    Right Bank – Merlot

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    As the Right Bank is farther from the ocean, the soil contains less gravel and it tends to be a mixture of clay, silt, sand, and limestone. Therefore, the Right Bank produces predominantly Merlot and its wines are attractive when young, though they can mature into something mellow yet complex.

    What is the 1885 Classification?

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    In 1855, Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system to showcase the top Bordeaux wines to the world. The 1855 Classification divided the 61 classified growths into five categories according to quality, from First Growth to Fifth Growth. The First Growth category contained only 5 wineries, namely Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Mouton Rothschild.

    The Médoc AOC Region

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    Médoc is the most famous wine-growing area within Bordeaux as four First Growths are situated here. There are 8 appellations inside Médoc, in which Saint-Estephe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux are more popular.


    1. Pauillac

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    Photo Credit to: Château Lafite Rothschild

    A high proportion of the Medoc’s most concentrated wines come from Pauillac. Pauillac has the honour of being home to three of the wine world’s most famous chateaux: Latour, Lafite and Mouton Rothschild. Wines from Pauillac are aristocratic and powerful. It also produces Cabernet Sauvignon with high Ageing potential.

    2. Margaux

    Softer, perfumed, more feminine styles of wine are the typical style of Margaux, the most southerly appellation of the Medoc. The wines are deep ruby with good structure and concentration – yet show a silkier texture. The district is home to the mighty first growth, Chateau Margaux.

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    Photo Credit to: Château Margaux

    3. Saint Estephe

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    St Estephe, the most northerly of the districts, produces powerful, masculine wines deep in colour that burst with blackcurrant flavours. Merlot is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to give the wines an attractive softness, while still being long-lived and full-bodied. They finish with a lightly acidic note, because of the climate that is a little cooler than southern districts.


    4. St Julien

    The soil in St Julien produces exceptional wines of unique style. With its wines lying somewhere between masculine and feminine, St Julien finest wines combine Margaux’s elegance and Pauillac’s power. Also, St Julien grows some of the most reliable, high-value wines in Bordeaux, producing blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the great aging ability and good depth of colour.

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    Photo Credit to: Château Beychevelle
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