There are more than 250,000 acres of vineyards producing an average of 600 million bottles a year. There are 53 ACs, more than 10,000 Châteaux, more than 2,000 properties and more than 40 caves cooperarives. The very best wines are classified into ‘Growths’ or ‘Crus’, and are needless to say, very expensive.
Crus Bourgeois is the next quality category and offers many of the best bargains.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Tannic, blackcurranty wines which soften with ageing.
Cabernet Franc – Good blackcurrant fruit but lighter and softer than Sauvignon. Usually blended.
Merlot – Produces plummy, blackcurranty, softer, easier drinking wines.
Malbec – Produces soft, low acidic wines almost always blended.
Classifications and styles for Bordeaux wines
Bordeaux - Young and fruity, everyday drinking wines from anywhere in the region.
Bordeaux Supérior – As above, but with slightly higher alcohol level.
Côte de Blaye – Light and fruity, everday drinking wines. Drink young.
Côte de Bourg – Good, everyday drinking reds, good fruit and high tannin.
Côtes de Castillon – Full bodied, fruity, whit traces of Merlot mintiness. Age well.
Côtes de Fronsac – Good value, full, firm, spicy flavour. Age well.
Graves – Improving all the time. Soft, silky, firm, rich and fruity. Age well.
Haut-Médoc – Good value, very dry, firm, fruity wines, medium/full bodied with good ageing potential.
Lalande-de-Pomerol – Big, rich wines, full of flavour and character, often nearing Pomerol in quality but at a fraction of the price. Age well.
Listrac – Medium – to full- bodied, soft but full of fruit. Age well.
Margaux – Need plenty of time (at least 10 years) to develop into perfumed fragrant, delicate wines. Age well for decades in best vintages.
Médoc – Made to deink young with Merlot blended in for fruit and softness.
Pauillac – Big, intense, blackcurranty fruit with wonderful balance. Expensive. Harsh when young but ages well and is the longest lasting of the clarets.
Pessac-Leognan: A new AC covering the best of the Graves.
Pomerol – Merlot predominates to give great depth of plummy fruit and softness. Very long lasting. Expernsive.
Premieres Cotes de Blaye – Steadily improving, balanced, plummy jam fruit.
Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux – Light, fruity-style clarets for easy drinking.
St. Emilion – Merlot softness, well balanced, full of fruit and warmth. Ages well.
St. Estephe – Strong, robust, full of fruit and flavor. Needs time to develop.
St. Julien – Expensive wines of great finesse, full bodied with intense color and richness of fruit. Age well.
Best vintages: 1990, 1989, 1988, 1986, 1985, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1978, 1975.
Sauvignon Blanc: At its best makes aromatic, herby, crisp, fresh and fruity wines. In blending its acidity adds freshness.
Semillon: The main variety for Sauternes with a hint of apple on the nose. Produces big, full-bodied, rounded wines which mellow with age and oak into soft, complex wines with hints of citrus fruits and melons honey and smokiness.
Muscadelle: Used in blending because of its heady perfume and softness.
Region and styles for Bordeaux Wine
Bordeaux blanc: Dry white wines from anywhere in the Gironde. Drink young.
Bordeaux Blanc Superior: As above bout with higher alcoholic content,
Cadillac: Sweet, fresh and fruity, floral aromas and honeyed taste. Age well.
Cérons: Sweet wine made from late picked, overripe grapes. Age well.
Entre-Deux-Mers: Dry whites, crisp, fresh and fruity, grassy.
Graves: Much improved of late. The best are dry, fruity and lively. Drink young.
Loupiac: Lush, sweet, full bodied, often heneyed, complex and long lasting.
Pessac-Leognan: Dry, classy wines from the best growers in Graves.
Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux: Good value dry and sweet wines.
Saint-Croix-du-Mont: Heneyed, sweet, full bodied wines. Long lasting.
Sauternes: Strong (14°+), expensive, luscious, golden sweet wines. Must be aged and develop enormous complexity.
Dry: 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, (1986-81 have opened up or reached a certain maturity but will continue to develop or improve)
Sweet: 1990, 1989, 1986, 1983, 1980.