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The Wines of Bordeaux

Pippa Hayward

Posted on September 10 2023

Welcome to Bordeaux!

It’s Bordeaux Wine Month here at The Good Wine Shop this September and we’ll be pouring a lot of it - throughout the month, giving you a chance to taste the full glory of it: the white, the red and the sweet.

If your perception of Bordeaux is one of an elite and expensive red wine, then prepare yourself for a discovery. Of course the legendary red wines like Petrus from Pomerol and Latour from the Medoc made Bordeaux famous, but these are merely the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Floating beneath there’s a huge range really of well-made and affordable wines in different styles – red, rose, Cremant, sweet and dry whites.

These are the wines that the French and the Bordelais drink everyday  - well made and fairly priced, while reserving the “big guns” for special celebrations.If summer seems a strange time to be drinking Bordeaux, remember it makes wonderful whites. Long before Kiwi Sauvignon stole a march in the UK market, Bordeaux from the large “Entre Deux Mers “ region was our main source of dry white. It was based mostly on Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon and sometimes a bit of Muscadelle in the blend. It’s a flexible recipe that can deliver mouth-wateringly fresh, crisp, un-oaked whites and complex, more intense and age- worthy barrel-aged ones from the same blend.  Whether enjoyed with goat cheese or seafood these wines work really well –and they make a perfect aperitif.

Bordeaux Oxygene” is a group of the younger generation of wine makers. These guys are well – travelled beyond Bordeaux and have brought back new energy, techniques and insights to their family domaines from their experience abroad.

On the last day of my visit to Bordeaux last summer we enjoyed a leisurely lunch on board a small barge as we plied up and down the Gironde River in the company of two winemakers. Chilled Cremant, Rosé and dry whites at the ready – and very welcome in the 40 degree heat…… as were the oysters and charcuterie! 


The MINI WORKSHOP is a brilliantly designed fold - out guide to Bordeaux explaining the different regions and grapes, the various styles of wine and how to pair them with food. You can pick up your own copy in all the Good Wine Shop stores this September.


Most of the best value Bordeaux Dry whites come from the large Entre Deux Mers region (in green on  the map) . For really sophisticated, food friendly, elegant barrel aged whites nowhere in Bordeaux does it better than Pessac –Leognan, the region in the north east corner of Graves –almost into Bordeaux’ suburbs………

Further south the two diminutive yellow areas represent the Sauternais –home to Bordeaux’s legendary sweet wines.

The vineyards ranged along both banks of the river depend on the local morning mists to create the humid, damp conditions that allow Botrytis (or Noble Rot) to develop. The concentration of sugars, acidity and the almost savoury notes from Botrytis make these world class sweet wines. They are as likely to be paired with blue cheese or Foie Gras as with a dessert and are also enjoyed as an aperitif.

What of the reds here?

Much of this area of Bordeaux is responsible for large volumes of affordable everyday reds. If you ignore the dark pink enclave on the right bank (Saint Emilion and Pomerol), the purple swathe of the posh Medoc north west of Bordeaux and the Graves just south of the city, that leaves a lot of vineyards producing just Bordeaux or Bordeaux Superieur and the various Bordeaux Cotes that fall into the same category.

Reds here are likely to be Merlot dominant with Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc and these days even bits of Petit Verdot and Malbec too. That means the style is generously fruity and fresh – oak can be used and if it’s Bordeaux Superieur must be for 9 months before sale.

This is not the stuff of posh cellars – no one is going to thank you for keeping a basic Bordeaux best drunk young till your dotage .The joy of it is that it’s really drinkable and food friendly and eminently affordable and unlike that mythical “good value Burgundy” it’s in plentiful supply .

You could start your Bordeaux education over a weekend break. Bordeaux city has been buffed and polished and is now a brilliant place for a long weekend. No end of great wine bars, restaurants and lovely old streets to walk, rivers to cruise down and of course the fabulous Cite du Vin museum – it’s a beautiful ancient historic city made good and dragged into the future in some style,

Or you could of course get down to your local Good Wine Shop and start your discovery over a glass of great value Bordeaux.

See you there

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