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Bordeaux: A land of superlative quality and diversity

Bordeaux: A land of superlative quality and diversity
 
   No other wine region in the world sparks as much passion as Bordeaux. Ask 
around and you won’t find a single wine lover who does not have well-formed 
opinions about Bordeaux wines, how they taste, their varieties, their unrivalled 
terroirs and even their prices.
 
   With its 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) under AC-classed vines, the Bordeaux 
wine region is the revered behemoth of French wine growing, though its 
boundaries fit snugly within a single department. Four components factor into the
quality of this unparalleled wine region. Firstly, a favoured vineyard site along the
Gironde plateau, on gently undulating land. A climate particularly conducive to 
wine growing, marked by maritime influences rising off the Atlantic which 
combine with a matrix of distinct local traits (incline, topography, aspect) to form 
a myriad of microclimates. Once these then partner up with all the various soil 
types, they form the third component which will determine the ‘terroirs’ most 
suitable for producing quality wines. Last comes a range of noble grape varieties 
painstakingly selected through trial and error by the people who care (grape 
growers, wine makers…), whose labour can in many ways be considered the fifth 
component of Bordeaux’s success. 
 
   So here you have the tremendous alchemy of the Bordeaux wine region. And as 
these components do not work in unison, the result is a cornucopia of styles, 
sufficiently numerous to form territorial entities with their own distinct 
personalities. 
 
The Médoc: Situated between the Gironde estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, the 
Médoc peninsula, meaning ‘middle land’ in local patois, is Bordeaux’s prodigy 
with prestigious names such as Margaux or Pauillac… Here, a combination of 
sandy, stony and clay soils - the famous ‘graves’ or gravel - deposited by the 
Garonne over thousands of years, retain heat during the day before gradually 
releasing it. They also regulate drainage. 
   The Médoc is primarily home to Cabernet-Sauvignon, a late-ripening varietal 
renowned for its tannins and powerful blackcurrant aromas, dominating its fellow 
varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit-Verdot (not extensively planted). The 
area covers eight appellations: six ‘communal’ appellations, Listrac, Moulis, 
Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien, and two ‘sub-regions’, Médoc 
to the far north and Haut-Médoc at the southern end. 
 
The Graves: This area is situated south of Bordeaux, extending south-east of the 
Médoc with similar soil types, in addition to which are sand, clay, shelly sand (limestone with shells), and sometimes even quartz and quartzite. The land is home to two red wine appellations, Pessac-Léognan on the outskirts of Bordeaux, to the north (an AC since 1987 embracing all the Graves classed growths), and Graves, in the south. Wines from the northern part are well-structured, powerful reds with a deep hue and good cellaring capacity, whilst in the south the wines tend to be lighter and more delicate on the palate. All of them are drawn from the
same red varietals grown in the Médoc. However, both the northern and southern
parts also have the capacity to produce powerful, mouth-filling whites, with a 
delicate bouquet and extensive ageing potential. They are drawn from Semillon, 
a productive, hardy varietal well-suited to oak ageing, and Sauvignon, a lively, 
aromatic varietal. 
 
The realms of the sweet wines: South of the Graves, this area straddling the 
Garonne river is home to the sweet wines: Loupiac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont 
along the right bank, Sauternes, Barsac and Cérons along the left bank…. These 
prestigious appellations are fortunate to have a climate conducive to producing a 
microscopic fungus - botrytis cinerea - which develops by sucking water out from 
inside the grapes, hence concentrating sugars in the wines. Vintages where the 
wines fully express all the rich, subtle aromas imparted by the fungus are 
occasionally referred to as ‘botrytised’ years. These outstanding wines can only 
be drawn from three varietals – Semillon (70%), Sauvignon (25%) and Muscadelle
(5%) - in that order, though the latter varietal, whilst highly aromatic on gravely 
and calcareous clay soils, is not widely planted because it does not always ripen 
easily. 
 
The Libourne area: Fanning out from the northern banks of the Dordogne, with 
the town of Libourne as its focal point, this area is primarily a red wine region 
where Bordeaux’s most ubiquitous grape variety (Merlot with 53.5%) is by far the
most predominant. Here it produces a clutch of world-famous wines like 
Canon-Fronsac, Fronsac, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol and the highly celebrated 
Saint-Emilion Grand Cru… Though slightly less renowned, 
Montagne-Saint-Emilion, Lussac and Puisseguin offer enticing alternatives. These 
particular vineyard sites provide this varietal with extremely varied soil types 
based on a backbone of clay (calcareous clay, clay-gravel, clay-sand…) where it 
forms a perfect partnership with Cabernet Franc (or Bouchet), yielding generous, 
racy, powerful wines with subtle aromas. 
 
CÔTES-DE-BORDEAUX WINES: Although this region is geographically extensive, 
the wines it produces are not as heterogeneous as one might imagine. They 
share a similar landscape, consisting of hilly slopes of clay-limestone soils along 
the banks of the Dordogne and the Garonne, as well as a south to southeast 
orientation –another feature they have in common is they are excellent value for 
money.Côtes-de-Bordeaux is made up of seven appellations. In the north, on the right 
bank of the Gironde, across from Médoc, lie the vineyards of Blaye, 
Côtes-de-Bourg and Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, which produce red wines that are 
rustic yet agreeable. Further south are two appellations around the town of 
Libourne; Francs Côtes-de-Bordeaux and Castillon Côtes-de-Bordeaux to the east, 
entirely devoted to reds, and Graves-de-Vayres to the west, which produces 
interesting reds and whites. South of this lies Cadillac Côtes-de-Bordeaux, which 
stretches along the Garonne River from Bordeaux to Langon. Benefiting from very
good conditions, today these vineyards produce quality wines that are highly 
appreciated by demanding consumers. The unique Carménère grape is still grown
here, a variety that produces excellent wines with a rich taste and deep colour, 
with a structure that is rather similar to Cabernet Franc.
 
Entre-Deux-Mers: Set between the Garonne and the Dordogne, this is Bordeaux’s 
most extensive wine growing region, stretching almost 30 kilometres wide and a 
good 60 km long. Home of the dry whites (primarily Entre-Deux-Mers), this area is
now governed by strict regulations. To be entitled to appellation status, the wines
must be drawn from 70% Semillon, Sauvignon and Musca-delle and no more than
30% Merlot Blanc or 10% Ugni blanc, Mauzac and Colombard.
 
WINE STYLES: The red wines are evidently blends (chiefly Cabernets and Merlot). 
They are well-structured and tannic, with intense aromas of blackcurrant and are 
often able to withstand the test of time. The most prestigious appellations are all 
of the above and much more, displaying incomparable finesse and exceptional 
complexity. 
The dry whites, which more often than not are also blends (Semillon-Sauvignon), 
cover a range of styles. White Bordeaux and Entre-Deux-Mers are lively, floral, 
fruity wines, in their prime when young. Graves and Pessac-Léognan have a 
longer life span due to a more ample structure, often enhanced by oak-ageing. 
Lastly come the sweet whites, legally required to come from the Semillon, 
Sauvignon and Muscadelle trio, which no longer need an introduction: Sauternes, 
Barsac, Cérons, Loupiac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont acquired star status aeons ago.
In good years, their structure keeps them fresh and young after decades in the 
bottle.
 
 
Review of recent vintages
 
2005: All the credentials of a great wine, greatly helped by near-perfect weather. 
The reds and dry whites are aromatic, harmonious and typically Bordeaux; the 
sweet wines are proving to be very promising.2006: Both a classic and uneven vintage, lacking the concentration of the 2005s yet still promising in terms of balance and elegance. 
 
2007: Although the summer was mediocre, the autumn was magnificent. The red 
wines are soft, moderately concentrated and have a bouquet of ripe fruit. They 
can be drunk when young. The dry white wines are excellent, and the dessert 
wines amazing.
 
2008: With a relatively cool August and a sunny end of September, 2008 was a 
rather mixed year, producing red wines that are fruity, lively and elegant, not 
without a certain power. The whites are very fresh, and the dessert wines 
moderately rich.
 
2009: An exceptional, monumental vintage, particularly for the red wines. 
Bordeaux reds have never before reached such concentration. They are powerful,
complete and deep. The Grands Crus will age well, while the humbler wines can 
be enjoyed already. The dry whites and dessert wines are full-bodied, sometimes 
perhaps a bit overly so, but there are also some excellent examples that are 
balanced with freshness.
 
2010: record concentrations due to the drought that prevailed throughout the 
summer. The 2010 vintage broke all previous records for phenolic concentration 
and alcoholic strength. However, unlike 2009, August stayed relatively cool thus 
ensuring slightly higher acidity levels, particularly in the Cabernets. Vintage 2010
saw successful wines when power and concentration took a back seat to 
freshness and the purity of the fruit.
 
2011: after a warm, dry spring, July and August were unsettled leading to an 
inconsistent vintage. Some successful dry and sweet whites. The reds are a more 
mixed bunch with two main taste profiles: enjoyable, fruity and fairly full-bodied 
wines and another group showing more pronounced tannins and a measure of 
dryness on the finish.
 
2012: In contrast to 2011, the spring was disrupted by precipitation and slow 
flowering, with the weather improving only in mid-July. The dry white wines are 
well made, while the dessert wines are decent without being excellent, and the 
reds are variable (particularly in Médoc). However, the wines are generally 
pleasant, with mature tannins and well-defined fruit.
 
THE BORDEAUX APPELLATIONS
 
A.C. Barsac
 
Overview: AC Barsac is grown in and around the town of Barsac on the left bank 
of the Garonne. All wines produced within AC Barsac can be labelled as 
Sauternes, however this only works one way. 
 
Wine styles: Traditionally, Barsacs are considered to be moderately lighter than 
Sauternes, perhaps because the soil has greater sand and clay content and the 
terrain is marginally flatter. As a rule of thumb, Barsacs display a 
characteristically beautiful golden colour, running the gamut from pale gold for 
the youngest to deep amber for the most mature. They exude a full, deep nose. 
On the palate, they develop flavours of acacia honey, the flesh of white peach, 
almond, toast and above all botrytised grapes which, over time, mellow and 
become more complex and harmonious. Enjoy with baked sole fillets in a creamy 
hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon, or chocolate cake.
 
BLAYE AOC
 
The vineyards of Blaye are located on the right bank of the Gironde, around 50 
kilometres northwest of Bordeaux. The vineyards stretch over a large area of 
6,000 hectares (of which 90% are planted with red varieties) and are cultivated 
by 700 winegrowers. The Blaye AOC produces still red wines.
 
Style of wine: These red wines are quite smooth, with a bouquet of spices, 
prune and ripe fruit that can develop over time to give musky hints. They develop
an attractive brick-red colour during ageing.
 
BLAYE CÔTES-DE-BORDEAUX AOC
 
This winegrowing area shares the same territory as Blaye AOC, separated from 
the Médoc by the Gironde estuary. The Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux reds are mainly 
produced from Merlot and have a deep colour and fruity notes. They are pleasant,
easy-drinking wines that go well with meat and cheese. The Blaye Côtes-de- 
Bordeaux whites are principally made from Sauvignon, giving them their pale 
yellow colour, nose of citrus and broom, as well as a nice bite and long finish, 
making them intensely subtle wines. These whites are ideal for an apéritif or with
seafood.
 
Style of wine: Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC wines are typically more delicate 
that those of Blaye AOC, as the grapes can be markedly different. The dominant 
aromas are white flowers, yellow fruits and broom. They can be served with 
seafood.
 
AC Bordeaux
 
AC Bordeaux covers the entire Gironde department, with the exception of 
wetlands, valley floors and the sandy soils of the Landes woodlands. It applies only to red wines (dry whites are governed by a specific dry Bordeaux 
appellation). Legally, they can only be made from Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet 
Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. Four different soil types form 
the Bordeaux appellation area: marshlands (recent alluvial soils edging the 
Garonne and the Dordogne), gravely soils made up of gravel and quartz, 
calcareous clay earth, extremely widespread on hillside sites, and ‘boulbenes’ 
(loamy soils characteristic of the Entre-Deux-Mers plateaux). The wines are made
traditionally in temperature-controlled stainless steel or lined concrete tanks. 
They can be aged in oak but this is optional. 
 
Wine styles: As a rule of thumb, red AC Bordeaux wines boast a fine cherry-red 
colour, they are well-balanced, harmonious and fruity, not overly robust and 
reward early drinking. 
 
AC Bordeaux Sec
 
Overview: Grown in the same area as red Bordeaux, dry Bordeaux are made from
Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle.
Wine styles: They offer floral, fruity fragrances, are relatively fat and rarely 
woody. At their best when served young, with seafood, fish and poultry. 
 
AC Bordeaux Supérieur
 
Overview: The AC Bordeaux Supérieur fits within the Bordeaux appellation area 
and can be used for reds and whites, both dry and sweet. There are two major 
differences between the two: Bordeaux Supérieur has lower yields and a higher 
minimum alcohol content than Bordeaux. However the varietal range for the reds
is identical: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, 
Carmenere; and for the whites: Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. 
 
Wine styles: They are more robust and fuller wines than ‘basic’ Bordeaux. 
Bordeaux Supérieur wines have red fruit (raspberry) and black fruit (blackcurrant)
aromas, with a dash of vanilla for the oak-aged wines. They pair well with sirloin 
steak cooked over a fire of vine twigs, pan-fried Bayonne ham and roast beef with
shallot chutney. 
The sweet white wines are rich in alcohol and sugar with scents of honey, acacia, 
plum and tobacco. They make perfect appetisers or accompaniments to white 
meat and foie gras. 
 
AC Bordeaux Haut-Benauge
 
The Haut-Benauge region is set like a lone island amidst the sea of 
Entre-Deux-Mers vines. Its soils are calcareous clay and clay-silica. The Bordeaux-Haut-Benauge appellation applies only to sweet white wines which 
account for one third of the area’s output: Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. 
 
Wine styles: The dry white wines display a pale yellow hue with hints of green. 
They are soft, supple, fruity, easy-drinking wines. Predominant aromas are flinty 
and floral notes. 
 
AC Bordeaux rosé
 
Overview: Bordeaux’s rosé wines are labelled under the regional appellations 
Bordeaux Rosé and Bordeaux Clairet. They can produced anywhere in the 
Gironde department, providing the land is suitable for wine growing. They are 
drawn from the same varietals as red wines. Bordeaux rosés are briefly 
macerated (for 10-18 hours) to impart some colour and are then run off and 
bottled shortly after. 
 
Wine styles: Fresh, fruity wines rewarding early drinking, the rosés are lighter 
than the Clairets. Fragrances of blackcurrant, redcurrant, raspberry and 
strawberry intermingle with caramel, orange peel and grapefruit… Try as an 
appetiser or with fish or cooked cold pork meats. 
 
AC Bordeaux Clairet
 
Overview: Bordeaux Clairets, blended from Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, 
Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere, are vinted in the same way as the 
rosés. However, because they macerate for longer (24 to 36 hours), their colour 
is deeper and tannin content higher. Some of them spend a short period in oak. 
Wine styles: The Clairets display fruit (peach, raspberry, redcurrant, strawberry, 
lychee) and floral aromas (seringa, rose, orange blossom) with a hint of primary 
bud aromas. They are more appropriate for a meal time, served with cooked cold 
pork meats, kebabs, grilled fish…
 
AC CADILLAC CÔTES-DE-BORDEAUX
 
Cadillac AOC, located to the north of Loupiac on the right bank of the Garonne, 
produces white dessert wines. Until 1973, Cadillac was part of the Premières 
Côtes-de-Bordeaux appellation. Today, 22 districts have the right to claim this 
AOC, but many winegrowers continue to use Premières Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC. 
The wines are produced from Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle.
 
Style of wine: These wines are elegant, aromatic, fruity and full. They are good 
apéritif wines, but also go well with foie gras and sweet-and-sour dishes such as 
caramelised pork.
 
AC Canon-Fronsac
 
In the Libourne area only two villages are entitled to carry the Canon-Fronsac 
appellation – Fronsac and Saint-Michel-de-Fronsac – and even then, the grapes 
can only come from specific vineyard sites. The vines (Cabernet-Sauvignon, 
Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec) are planted on hillside sites where the soils 
are calcareous clay or clay-sand on a limestone bedrock. 
 
Wine styles: Canon-Fronsac wines (exclusively reds) are on the whole 
deeply-coloured, fat, fleshy wines whilst at the same time revealing suppleness 
and elegance with a delicate, slightly spicy flavour and a distinctive bouquet. 
With good cellaring potential, they develop aromas of red fruits, pepper, spices 
and truffle. They pair well with marinated or roast meats, preserved duck or 
goose, poultry and pears cooked in wine.
 
AC CASTILLON CÔTES-DE-BORDEAUX
 
Some 40 kilometres east of Bordeaux, on the northeast border of the Gironde 
region, Castillon is known for the battle in 1453 that brought an end to the 
Hundred Years’ War. There are nine districts that have the right to claim the 
appellation. The area benefits from a favourable climate for growing grapes. The 
soils are rich in iron and limestone and lie on clay-limestone or limestone slopes. 
The grape varieties used are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and 
Malbec. 
 
Style of wine: The wines resemble those around Saint-Émilion, although they 
are less tannic and need to age for several years in order to soften. They have an
intense colour and are structured, powerful, balanced and fleshy. They develop 
aromas of prune, spices and animal notes. They pair well with red meat, either 
barbecued or prepared with a sauce, game and strong cheeses.
 
AC Cérons
 
Overview: this appellation covers around 120 hectares in Cérons, Illats and 
Podensac on the left bank of the Garonne, thirty or so kilometres south-east of 
Bordeaux. Set within the Graves appellation area, it only produces sweet wines 
from Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle grapes harvested when overripe and 
picked in batches as they ripen. 
 
Wine styles: Cérons is an elegant sweet wine, perhaps slightly lighter and 
vigorous than Sauternes. It is a good match for foie gras, white meat served in a 
sauce or blue cheeses (Roquefort).
 
AC Côtes de Blaye
 
Overview: This area fits within the AC Blaye region, looking out over the Gironde 
to the Médoc. It only produces white wines and these must legally be blended from at least two varietals, usually Colombard, with a balance of Semillon, 
Sauvignon or Muscadelle. 
 
Wine styles: As a rule, wines entitled to use the Côtes de Blaye appellation tend 
to be more refined than those labelled AC Blaye, mainly because the varietal 
range can be noticeably different. Predominant aromas are white blossom, yellow
fruit and broom. Food pairings include fish or seafood. 
 
AC Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire
 
This appellation lies to the extreme southeast of Cadillac Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC 
over some ten districts (including Saint-Macaire) on the right bank of the 
Garonne. Only whites (dessert and dry wines) made from Sémillon, Sauvignon, 
Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle can be labelled with this AOC. Both the dry and 
moelleux dessert wines are produced from grapes harvested at a late stage of 
ripening. The liquoreux dessert wines are produced from overripe grapes affected
by noble rot. 
 
Style of wine: These sweet wines, more or less botrytised depending on the 
year, are subtle, quite full-bodied yet soft, and best drunk when young. They 
have a bouquet with notes of honey, acacia and tobacco. They can be drunk as 
an apéritif and also pair well with white meat and foie gras.  
 
AC CÔTES-DE-BOURG
 
This appellation sits on the right bank of the Dordogne, near the confluence with 
the Garonne, some 30 kilometres northeast of Bordeaux. It spreads over the 
district of Bourg-sur-Gironde. The hillsides generally have clay-limestone or 
clay-gravel soils. The vineyards along the banks of the Gironde estuary are 
particularly well protected from freezing due to the influence of the Atlantic 
Ocean. This area is often called ‘Gironde’s Little Switzerland’ for its green, hilly 
landscapes. Its red wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, 
Merlot and Malbec. Its whites are made from Sémillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle, 
Merlot Blanc and Colombard.
 
Style of wine: Côtes-de-Bourg wines are mainly red. The whites were once used 
as the base wine for making Cognac. Today some of them are distilled into Fine 
de Bordeaux, a brandy that received recognition in 1974. The red wines are 
robust, well-structured and highly aromatic, with a deep, brilliant purple colour. 
They have surprising roundness and velvety tannins. They pair wonderfully with 
poultry, roast beef with boletus mushrooms or leg of lamb.
 
AC Côtes de Castillon
 
Overview: Located 40 kilometres east of Bordeaux, along the north-east border of
Gironde, Castillon is famous for the 1453 battle which ended the 100 Years’ War. 
Nine towns and villages are entitled to use the appellation. The area is blessed 
with a climate conducive to wine growing. The soils are rich in iron and limestone 
on hillside sites of calcareous clay or just clay. The wines are blended from the 
varietals Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. 
 
Wine styles: The wines are similar in style to the Saint-Emilion satellite 
appellations although they tend to be less tannic and take a few years to mellow. 
Their hue is intense and they are well-constituted, powerful, well-balanced and 
fleshy. They develop aromas of prunes, spices and animal notes. They are 
suitable partners for red meats either grilled or served with a sauce, game or 
mature cheeses. 
 
AC Crémant de Bordeaux
 
Overview: Crémants are sparkling wines which can be made anywhere within the 
Bordeaux appellation area from both the red and white varietals used in Gironde. 
They are made using the traditional method with secondary fermentation in the 
bottle after a blend of sugar and yeasts has been added. 
 
Wine styles: Crémants can generally divided into three different styles: ‘blancs de
blancs’ made from Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle, Crémant Rosé made 
from red Bordeaux varietals and blended white Crémant, a combination of red 
and white varietals. With their pale yellow colour, Crémants are usually fresh and 
lively. They can be served as appetisers, or with fish, shellfish, white meats, 
cheeses or desserts.
 
AC Entre-Deux-Mers
 
Overview: this extensive appellation should actually be called 
‘Entre-Deux-Rivières’ (or between two rivers) as it sits between the Dordogne and
the Garonne. It produces white wines only, from Sauvignon, Semillon and 
Muscadelle, with just over 2,000 hectares on-stream. Red wines grown here are 
labelled as Bordeaux or Bordeaux Supérieur.
 
Wine styles: these are dry, fresh, fruity wines which have become rounder over 
the past few years. Characteristic aromas of citrus fruit (lemon, grapefruit), peach
and occasionally exotic fruit (lychee) are present. Try with seafood or fish.
 
AC Entre-Deux-Mers Haut-Benauge
 
Overview: The Entre-Deux-Mers Haut-Benauge region is set like a lone island 
amidst the sea of Entre-Deux-Mers vines; only a clutch of villages producing dry 
white wines are entitled to use it. The appellation applies only to white wines which account for one third of the area’s output. Varietals used are Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle. 
 
Wine styles: These dry white wines display a pale yellow hue with hints of green. 
They are soft, supple, fruity, easy-drinking wines. They develop aromas of flint 
and floral notes. They can be served either as an appetiser or with seafood or 
grilled fish. 
 
AC Francs-Côtes de Bordeaux
 
This appellation extends east from Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion and 
Lussac-Saint-Émilion. It covers the districts of Francs, Saint-Cibard and Tayac. In 
the valleys, the soils are clay, and the hillsides have clay-limestone soil over 
marly or limestone subsoils. The red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, 
Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carménère. The white varieties 
are Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. 
 
Style of wine: The red wines have a rich colour and are opulent and full-bodied, 
characterised by harmonious tannins. They have notes of red fruits (red currant) 
and spices, with woody notes when young that evolve over time to aromas of 
game and leather. The dry white wines are fat and complex with floral, woody 
fragrances. The dessert wines, which are produced only when the harvest and 
weather allow, are powerful, fat, well balanced and endowed with an attractive 
wealth of aromas.
 
AC Fronsac
 
Overview: Setwithin the Libourne region, this appellation embraces Fronsac, La 
Rivière, Saint-Germain-la-Rivière, Saint-Michel-de-Fronsac, Saint-Aignan, Saillans 
and Galgon. Soil types range from modern alluvium along the marshland 
bordering the Dordogne and the Isle to calcareous clay and clay-sand. Only wines
blended from Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec are made 
here.
 
Wine styles: As a general rule, Fronsac wines are deeply-coloured (vermilion red 
or deep ruby hue, occasionally turning a topaz shade with age), fat, fleshy and 
well-balanced, though at the same time supple and delicate with a distinctive 
flavour and bouquet. They are laying-down wines which develop aromas of 
pepper, spices and truffle. 
 
AC Graves
 
Overview: The extensive region of Graves, which runs parallel with the banks of 
the Garonne, is Bordeaux’s oldest wine growing area. AC Graves wines hail 
primarily from the stretch of land between La Brède and Langon, encircling the Barsac and Sauternes appellations. In 1987, it parted company with AC 
Pessac-Léognan in the north which embraces all the classed growths. The 
gravel-strewn outcrops near Bordeaux and sandy gravel soils further south are 
home to vineyards blessed with a particularly mild climate. The red wines are 
blended from Merlot; Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and 
Malbec. The whites from Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle.
 
Wine styles: The red wines are supple, elegant, well-structured, delicate and 
well-balanced with an enticing bouquet (red berries, violet, liquorice, peach). 
They generally mature harmoniously and pair well with roast white meats (veal, 
lamb) and cheeses (brie, coulommiers). The white wines, which bear the tell-tale 
characteristics of Bordeaux wines and are amongst the best the region has to 
offer, are dry, elegant, fleshy, lively wines that linger on the palate and boast a 
layered aromatic profile: honey, wax, muscat and acacia blossom when they are 
made from Semillon; more predominant citrus and exotic fruits when Sauvignon 
is the backbone varietal. Enjoy with shellfish, fish and white meats served with a 
sauce.
 
AC Graves de Vayres
 
Overview: This diminutive appellation situated near Libourne, along the left bank 
of the Dordogne, embraces just two villages: Vayres and Arveyres. It is entirely 
surrounded by the northern section of the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation. 
 
Wine styles: The wines display a ruby-red hue and are delicate and elegant with a
supple, well-balanced tannic structure. They are equally suited to early drinking 
and laying down. They boast fragrances of cherry, redcurrant, blackcurrant, 
strawberry and notes of liquorice, leather and vanilla. Whites made 
predominantly from Sauvignon are dry with a pleasant bouquet, brimming with 
freshness on the palate. The sweet whites, drawn from over-ripe Semillon grapes,
display an attractive straw-yellow hue. On the palate, they are generous and 
overwhelmingly supple. The scale of production remains, however, boutique. 
 
AC Graves Supérieures
 
Overview: This AC produces sweet white wines from Semillon, Sauvignon and 
Muscadelle. Minimum natural sugar content in the must is 221g/l and alcoholic 
strength must be in excess of 13.5%. Wine making practices are identical to 
those in Sauternes.
 
Wine styles: Graves Supérieures are sweet white wines with a distinctive bouquet
and great length on the palate. Golden yellow in colour, they display a 
characteristic balance between acidity and sweetness with toasted, honey notes 
and occasionally dried fruit. They partner well with fresh or pan-fried foie gras 
and desserts.
 
AC Haut-Médoc
 
Overview: The regional Haut-Médoc appellation forms the southern part of the 
Medoc peninsula. It covers 29 towns and villages from Blanquefort in the south as
far as Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne in the north, including the communal 
appellations Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Moulis, Listrac-Médoc and 
Margaux. Dotted throughout the region are the star-studded châteaux producing 
some of the world’s greatest wines. 
   The region is home to five classed growths, hundreds of Bourgeois growths 
producing some of Bordeaux’s finest wines and five co-operative wineries. The 
soil make-up comprises gravel from the Quaternary era, deposited by the 
Garonne and shaped into outcrops. The temperate climate is strongly defined by 
the Atlantic and the nearby estuary. The wines are made traditionally at 
controlled temperatures and subsequently aged in oak for 12 to 18 months. 
 
Wine styles: Blended from Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, 
Petit Verdot and Carmenere, the wines are elegant, with great finesse and a 
layered bouquet. They are reasonably robust and perfectly suited to laying down. 
They conjure up aromas of ripe red fruit, notes of roasted coffee, mild spices 
(liquorice, vanilla…) and sweet pepper, sometimes prune. They pair well with 
Normandy-style veal cutlets, roast meats or game. 
 
Classed growths: Château La Lagune (3rd growth), Château La Tour Carnet (4th 
growth), Château Camensac, Château Cantemerle and Château Belgrave (all 
three 5th growths). 
 
AC Lalande-de-Pomerol
 
Overview: The Lalande-de-Pomerol appellation area embraces just two villages, 
Lalande-de-Pomerol itself and Néac, situated north of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. 
In fact, only a tiny river, the Barbanne, separates them from Pomerol. Soil types 
range from clay and clay-gravel in the east to gravel in the north and north-east, 
and sand in the western reaches. Vines thrive here in hot sunny climes, blessed 
with sufficient rainfall. Red varietals: Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
and Malbec.
 
Wine styles: Deeply coloured red wines, powerful and velvety with a pleasant 
mouthfeel. Predominant aromas are truffle, violet and undergrowth. They are a 
good match for roast beef, duck and unfermented cheeses. 
 
AC Listrac-Médoc
 
Overview: Officially recognised in 1957, Listrac is the youngest of the six 
communal appellation areas in Haut-Médoc.It is also the furthest away from the Gironde estuary, set on the border between the wine growing areas of Medoc and
its woodlands. The soils are either gravely or calcareous clay. The nearby ocean 
and the estuary provide a temperate climate. 
 
Wine styles: The wines are all of a consistent standard. Deeply coloured, tannic 
and well-structured, they display a virile, fleshy personality. Predominant aromas 
are ripe red and black fruit, vanilla or caramel, roasted coffee, dark chocolate and
spices. They can be served with beef casserole or preserved duck. There are no 
classed growths within this communal appellation. 
 
AC Loupiac
 
Overview: This appellation is situated 40 km from Bordeaux along the right bank 
of the Garonne, near Sainte-Croix-du-Mont. The vines are planted on hillside sites 
where the soils are either calcareous clay or clay-sand. This south-facing area is 
blessed with a microclimate conducive to the onset of noble rot. Varietals for 
blending are Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. 
 
Wine styles: Loupiac are fruity wines with a well-balanced mellowness. They are 
delicate, elegant, firm and generous, developing aromas of crystallised fruit 
(apricot), honey and gingerbread. They pair well with roast duck or duck breasts.
 
AC Lussac-Saint-Emilion
 
Overview: Lussac-Saint-Emilion is one of Saint-Emilion’s four satellite 
appellations. Set in the village of Lussac, it is a red-wine only appellation. The 
wines are grown on average 10-hectare plots by around a hundred growers. The 
vineyards are planted on plateaux and hillside sites where soil types are 
calcareous clay in the south eastern portion and gravely in the west, though 
there are pockets of sand and clay. The wines are blended from 
Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Malbec and Carmenère.
 
Wines styles: Lussac’s hallmark character traits are sourced in its ‘terroir’. The 
wines display a distinctively intense colour, finesse and generosity. They are 
well-balanced, full and suitable for laying down. They can be paired with grilled or
roast meats and game. 
 
AC Margaux
 
Overview: Situated on a plateau 6 km long by 2 km wide, the appellation 
encompasses five villages (Margaux, Cantenac, Soussans, Arsac and Labarde). It 
is not only the most extensive appellation in the Haut-Médoc, it is also the most 
southerly.The core of the appellation is in Cantenac and Margaux along a string of prime 
hillock sites. The vineyards are planted on a plateau of gravel flanked by gravely 
outcrops. They in fact boast the deepest layer of gravel throughout the whole of 
the Médoc and have the stoniest soils.
 
Wine styles: These delicate, refined wines are rich, subtle and elegant. They are 
reputedly the Medoc’s most ‘feminine’ wines. Their aromas cover a broad 
spectrum, predominantly violet, rose and raspberry. Recommended pairings 
include venison fillet, rack of lamb, hare or roast partridge, morels in puff pastry, 
sweetbreads and veal cutlets with chanterelles. In fact, they enhance all red 
meats and mild flavoured game. 
 
Classed growths : First growth : Château Margaux. Second growths : Château 
Brane-Cantenac, Château Dufort-Viviens, Château Lascombes, Château 
Rauzan-Gassies, Château Rauzan-Ségla. Third growths : Château Boyd-Cantenac, 
Château Kirwan, Château d’Issan, Château Giscours, Château Malescot 
Saint-Exupéry, Château Cantenac-Brown, Château Palmer, Château Ferrière, 
Château Desmirail, Château Marquis d’Alesme Becker. Fourth growths : Château 
Prieuré-Lichine, Château Pouget, Château Marquis de Terme. Fifth growths : 
Château Dauzac, Château du Tertre. 
 
AC Médoc
 
Overview: AC Médoc is situated in the northern part of Médoc, around the towns 
and villages north of Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne. Interspersed amongst the 
calcareous clay soils are less frequent occurrences of gravel. The temperate 
climate is strongly defined by the Atlantic ocean and the nearby estuary. The 
wines are made traditionally at controlled temperatures. They are matured for 
varying periods of time either under oak or in tanks. 
 
Wine styles: AC Médoc is a red-wine only appellation. The wines display a brilliant
cherry-red hue. On both the nose and the palate they have distinctive fruit 
aromas (blackcurrant, red fruit). These superbly round, delicate, supple wines 
tend to mature well. They can be enjoyed from an early age and served with 
grilled sirloin steak, cooked cold meats and cheeses. 
 
AC Montagne Saint-Emilion
 
Overview: Of the four Saint-Emilion satellite appellations, this AC has the greatest
acreage. Its soil type is quite similar to that of nearby Saint-Emilion: calcareous 
clay hillside sites on a subsoil of limestone, clay-silica or loam. The wines are 
blended from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Malbec and 
Carmenere. 
 
Wine styles: With a hue of varying intensity, these wines are fresh, powerful, rich 
and mild. Tannins are quite present but the wines remain supple and display extremely pleasant characteristic floral, fruity notes. They partner with game and
poultry served in a sauce.
 
AC Moulis
 
Overview: Situated on the left bank of the Gironde, in Haut-Médoc, the Moulis 
appellation area embraces seven villages (Moulis, Listrac-Médoc, Lamarque, 
Arcins, Avensan, Castelnau-de-Médoc, Cussac-Fort-Médoc). Forty or so wine 
growers share the appellation and 14 of those boast Bourgeois growth status. The
vines grow on outcrops studded with gravel of Pyrenean origin or deposited by 
the Garonne. 
 
Wine styles: The wine boasts great finesse and an elegant bouquet supported by 
a strong framework and good length. An intense ruby-red colour, it is both 
seductive yet virile. For some, it is the epitome of a Médoc, with the potential 
finesse of Margaux, the complexity of a Saint-Julien and the strength of a Pauillac.
Their tannin content makes Moulis capable of considerable longevity. They exude 
aromas of prunes and leather as well as spicy and vanilla notes. They can be 
served with stew, casseroles, sirloin steak with a shallot sauce, leg of mutton… 
 
AC Pauillac
 
Overview: Pauillac is a Médoc communal appellation. It boasts an impressive 
concentration of top-flight wines with three of the five First Growths within its 
boundaries (Lafite, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild). The vines are planted on a 
virtually unbroken ridge stretching from Saint-Julien in the south to Saint-Estèphe 
in the north. Only a few hundred metres of marshland separate them from the 
waters of the Gironde estuary. The soils are gravely with sandy deposits, 
providing superb drainage. The nearby ocean and estuary define a warm 
temperate climate. 
 
Wine styles: Pauillac’s red wines, whose principal varietal is Cabernet-Sauvignon, 
are some of the Médoc’s most concentrated wines. Rich and complex, they have 
a well-structured, harmonious body bolstered by a fine tannic structure. They are 
robust, elegant, distinguished wines with a great ability to age. They develop 
fragrances of raspberry, blackcurrant, rose, violet, iris, cedar and cigar box. Enjoy
with Pauillac lamb, roast wood pigeon, rack of veal with chanterelles. 
 
Classed Growths: First Growths: Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, 
Château Mouton Rothschild. Second Growths: Château Pichon-Longueville 
(Baron), Château Pichon-Longueville (Comtesse de Lalande). Fourth Growth: 
Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild. Fifth Growths: Château Batailley, Château 
Haut-Batailley, Château Clerc Milon, Château Croizet-Bages, Château Grand-Puy 
Ducasse, Château Grand-Puy Lacoste, Château Haut-Bages Libéral, Château 
Lynch-Bages, Château Lynch-Moussas, Château Pédesclaux, Château 
Pontet-Canet, Château d’Armailhac.
 
AC Pessac-Léognan
 
Overview: Pessac-Léognan, which was given its own appellation in 1987, is set in 
the heart of Graves country. It embraces ten towns and villages south of 
Bordeaux (Pessac, Talence, Villemanve d’Ornon, Léognan, Martillac, Mérignac, 
Gradignan, Cadaujac, Canéjan, Saint-Médard d’Eyrans). The terrain forms gravel 
outcrops and has good drainage. Bordered by pine forests then the ocean to the 
west and the Garonne to the east, the Graves region enjoys an extremely mild 
climate. 
The wines are made traditionally at controlled temperatures. The reds are aged in
oak as are the whites which are both fermented and matured under oak, almost 
invariably on the lees. 
 
Wine styles: Pessac-Léognan scales the quality heights with elegant, complex 
wines. Displaying a highly attractive garnet-red hue, they show concentration and
structure and are blessed with a finely woven texture, spanning a broad range of 
aromas. Ripe fruit, spices (pepper, liquorice) and humus aromas intermingle with 
smoky, chocolaty notes. The white wines are dry, vigorous, elegant, fleshy wines, 
velvety on the palate exuding an extremely refined bouquet (honey, acacia 
flowers, butter, dried fruit (peach, apricot), crystallised citrus fruit). The reds pair 
with roast poultry and meat served in a sauce; the whites with shellfish, pike 
served with a butter sauce… Both red and white Pessac-Léognan are wines for 
laying down and will keep for between 5 to 20 years.
 
Classed growths:
First growth (Official 1855 Classification): Château Haut-Brion.
Classed growths: Château Bouscaut, Château Carbonnieux, Domaine de 
Chevalier, Château Couhins, Château Couhins-Lurton, Château de Fieuzal, 
Château Haut-Bailly, Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Château La Tour Haut-Brion, 
Château Latour Martillac, Château Laville Haut-Brion, Château 
Malartic-Lagravière, Château Olivier, Château Pape-Clément, Château Smith 
Haut-Lafitte.
 
AC Pomerol
 
Overview: Pomerol is a village situated near Libourne. The hillsides of 
Saint-Emilion roll down to Pomerol ending in a plateau carved into terraces which 
gently descend towards the valley floor. The soils are predominantly gravel 
interspersed with layers of clay. The subsoil however is shot through with a kind 
of iron-rich sandstone called ‘iron dross’ which in some cases imparts very 
distinctive characteristics to the wines. Despite the fact that Pomerol is one of the most renowned and popular wines in the world, it has no official classification.
 
Wine styles: Pomerol wines are rich in colour, powerful and brimming with body, 
roundness and generosity, though they also boast finesse and an overwhelmingly
rich bouquet. Red fruit, truffle and violet form the backbone of its aromatic range.
Pomerol is an all-rounder which can be paired with all sorts of food, including foie 
gras. It sits nicely alongside dishes such as roast beef en croûte, jugged hare, 
lamprey in a red wine sauce, mushrooms and most cheeses.
 
AC Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion
 
Overview: This is one of Saint-Emilion’s four satellite appellations, with a total 
120 growers, one third of whom belong to the local co-operative. The soil is 
primarily calcareous clay with a rocky, stony subsoil. A large proportion of the 
vineyards enjoy a south, south-east aspect and a dry microclimate. The wines 
grown here are red, drawn from Merlot, Cabernet Franc (or Bouchet) 
Cabernet-Sauvignon and very occasionally Malbec. 
 
Wine styles: Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion wines have good depth of colour. They are 
powerful, well-constituted, delicate, harmonious wines. The more mature wines 
pair well with white meat whilst the younger versions are better suited to red 
meat and game. 
 
AC Sainte-Croix-du-Mont
 
Overview: Situated 45 km south-south-east of Bordeaux, this appellation sits on 
the opposite bank of the Garonne to Sauternes. The soils are calcareous clay in 
type with fossils set on a subsoil of limestone or gravel. The vines are planted on 
plateaux or hillside sites. The wines are blended from Semillon, Sauvignon and