By 2023, the global wine market is expected to generate over $423 billion USD in revenues.
One of the oldest and most popular wines on that world market is Bordeaux wine. And if you’re a wine lover who didn’t know that, then you’re definitely going to need some help sounding like an expert on Bordeaux wine tours.
If you want to sound like a connoisseur on your next vineyard tour, you should know important details about where it comes from, what makes it special, and what it costs. Throwing in some facts and figures about the region itself couldn’t hurt your case, either.
Before heading out on your tour, arm yourself with those facts and more, with this guide to French Bordeaux wine.
What is French Bordeaux Wine?
French Bordeaux wine is the only kind of Bordeaux wine there is. That is, it’s only considered Bordeaux if it’s produced in this wine region in France.
That goes for both the red and white varieties coming from Bordeaux, though the region is primarily associated with its unique red blends. In fact, 90% of the wine produced in the region is of the red variety.
The blend is a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but the proportion of each varies according to the specific part of the Bordeaux wine region the wine is produced. Some winemakers blend additional wines into their final product, including Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and/or Malbec, as well.
All You Need to Know About the Bordeaux Wine Region
Bordeaux has been a major port city in France for centuries. That strategic location allowed wine makers to get their wines into the glasses of people around the world for a very long time.
But the ability to access different regions does not a great wine make. Bordeaux also has an ideal climate and soil for growing fantastic grapes.
Being a major wine producing region for hundreds of years, you’ve likely noticed that you have a lot of Bordeaux wine tours to choose from. The region houses:
- 120,000 hectares of vines
- 18,000 wine producers
- 7,000 estates
Interestingly, the most popular examples of Bordeaux wine only represent 5% of what the region actually produces. If you’ve heard of Bordeaux wineries such as Margaux, Cheval Blanc, and Petrus, those only represent a drop in the bucket – or, more fittingly, the wine barrel.
One notable fact about the wine map of this historic region that any would-be expert should know is that it’s distinguished by two main regions: Médoc and Graves (the Left Bank) and Libournais (the Right Bank). Cut by the Gironde estuary, each bank has different soils, proportioning of Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot, and their own prestigious sub-regions with unique characteristics and properties.
Knowing the Right (Tasting) Notes
In general, a red Bordeaux is medium- to full-bodied. It carries aromas of plum and black currant with earthy notes of graphite and wet gravel. Those mineral notes combine with the fruitier elements to produce one of the world’s most popular red wines.
But only an expert would know that the exact notes of a Bordeaux wine actually depend on whether it’s produced in the soils of the Left or Right bank.
On the Left Bank, in areas such as St Estèphe, they produce blends that contain more Cabernet Sauvignon than they do Merlot. They also tend to have more alcohol, acidity, and tannins. This is where Bordeaux gained its historical reputation, and the region still produces wines that are both rich and powerful.
On the Right Bank, in places such as Saint Emilion, the blend contains a higher proportion of Merlot than Cabernet. These blends are less acidic and lower in alcohol content. They deliver softer notes and less tannins, but they don’t age as well as Left Bank varieties.
Serving What You Buy on Bordeaux Wine Tours
You’ll inevitably depart from your Bordeaux wine tour with at least one bottle of those green, elegantly labeled bottles in your checked luggage. Your expertise on the subject, therefore, doesn’t end at the end of your visit. You have to know how to store and serve your bottle.
Bordeaux wine should be served at around 65 °F / 18 °C, which is just slightly below room temperature. Most red wines should be served around this temperature, so you’re free to store your Bordeaux along with others in your collection.
Before serving, decanting the Bordeaux for approximately 30 minutes will bring out its best flavors.
Discussing Bordeaux Wine Price
In its early history, Bordeaux wine was among the most prestigious wines one could acquire. Why? Because only wealthy individuals in the trading class, who had access to merchants that traveled to Bordeaux, were able to access it. As their collection grew, so too did Bordeaux’s reputation as a wine restricted for the higher classes – which was, of course, reflected in its price.
Today, the Bordeaux wine price ranges from a very affordable £10.99 to vintages prices well over £150, but a great bottle of Bordeaux from a top producer doesn’t cost much more than £30. Price is, of course, relative to quality, as well as vintage and the reputation of the estate you’re buying from.
What Can You Expect on a Bordeaux Wine Tour?
Although your convertible buggy comes with all the information and storytelling you’ll need on Bordeaux wine tours, you’re pretty much an expert on the topic yourself. Driving along the small roads lining the Gironde estuary, you can be the guide and source of all things Bordeaux wine. Or, save your newfound expertise for another time and opt to simply enjoy the endless views of prestigious vines, quaint French homes, and incredible estates on the Medoc Castle Road (aka the wine road).
To see more of this historic city, check out all of our available tours in Bordeaux here.