Anyone who’s familiar with Ye Olde England’s painful-to-watch-but-oh-so-funny Fawlty Towers might remember Basil Fawlty ranting about the level of ‘sophistication’ (or lack of-) among his hotel guests.
“Wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn’t know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret” – Basil Fawlty
Flawless in delivery at all times, John Cleese is somewhat a comic genius, yet for some of us, this line might not have quite so much credence. The joke lies in that a Bordeaux and a Claret are actually exactly the same thing, with ‘Claret’ being the English term for wines from Bordeaux. So who wants focus on this illustrious wine-growing region a little more?
The two major grapes used in a red Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Usually Bordeaux wines are categorised by geographical location with respect to the Gironde River, which runs down through the centre of the region. (It actually forms more of an upside down Y as the river splits, but forget this for simplification purposes).
Wine producers are situated on both sides of the river – the right bank and the left. Due to differences in climate and soil varieties the right bank is more suitable for growing Merlot grapes; the left bank for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.
Names you may have heard in the right bank area include Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Bourg and Blaye, which all have a higher proportion of Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon in the wines.
The left bank have more Cabernet Sauvignon and include Medoc wines and Pauillac, Saint Julien, Margaux and Graves; as well as Bordeaux’s first growth or ‘Premier Cru’s (the Mercedes-Benz of the wine world).
No matter which you choose, they are certain to be full-bodied, tannic and perfect for a big meat feast!
Anyway I won’t bore you with any more geeky wine facts (for now), but do read up on Bordeaux’s major white grapes if you get a chance. A large amount of Semillon, some Sauvignon Blanc and a few Muscadelle grapes make some mean dessert wines (Sauternes) as well as other more traditional whites.
I hope you enjoyed our focus on Bordeaux. There is some more information about Bordeaux on our website or you can browse our wines from the region. Which bank is your favourite? Or perhaps there are other regions you would like to learn more about? Just let us know in the comments below.
Felicity, The Perfect Cellar Team