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Bordeaux Basics: The Blend & The Banks

Learn the difference between the left and right banks in this video on Bordeaux basics by our founder. 

Why Is Bordeaux So Esteemed?

The wines of Bordeaux have inspired an entire style across the globe; from South Africa to Australia, to Napa Valley and beyond.

The Bordeaux Blend, as it is affectionately known, consists of some combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc with sprinklings of Malbec and Petit Verdot at times.

What Are the Differences Between the Right and Left Banks When Speaking of Bordeaux?

To know wine is to know geography, so here is a map of Bordeaux for reference. The differences between Bordeaux from the right bank versus the left bank have to do with the soil. 

There is a distinct difference in the soils on the Left Bank and Right Bank and this difference is what has ultimately dictated what is planted and where.

(Source: A Laymans Wine Musings)

Nature always plays a role and in Bordeaux, nature's biggest contributor is the Gironde estuary, which splits Bordeaux wine country in two, forming what we refer to as the Left Bank and Right Bank.

The Left Bank has a good amount of gravel in the soil - making it more suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon and hence, the wines from the Left Bank are Cabernet Sauvignon dominant in their makeup.

On the Right Bank, we find a higher amount of clay and limestone in the soil. This suits Merlot and Cabernet Franc better; hence the wines of the Right Bank focus more on Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

The Left Bank is highlighted by the Medoc, the area north of Bordeaux city home to some wildly famous appellations like Margaux, Saint-Julien, Saint Estephe and Pauillac. Here we find four of the five 1st Growths as outlined in the Classification of 1855 - Château Margaux (Margaux), Château Latour (Pauillac), Château Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac), and Château Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac).

South of the city of Bordeaux we find a few additional world-renowned appellations - Pessac-Leognan, home to the fifth 1st Growth, Château Haut-Brion, as well as Graves and Sauternes, home to the world famous sweet wines made from botrytized grapes.

The Right Bank is highlighted by the towns of Pomerol, where Merlot typically shines, and St. Emilion, where Cabernet Franc and Merlot tend to work as co-stars. Here you'll find some magnificent estates, including Château Cheval Blanc and Chateau Pétrus, just to name a few.

How to Store Bordeaux from These Areas

The makeup of these wines mixed with their terroir makes the best of the best extremely long-lasting - capable of aging several decades easily. Make sure to store them correctly. This means laying them down, out of direct sunlight, and, if you can, in a cool, temperature-controlled space. like a wine cave. 

READ MORE - THE BORDEAUX WINE CLASSIFICATION OF 1855 - CHÂTEAUS AND VALUES