Left Bank Bordeaux

Left Bank Bordeaux Image

The Left Bank of Bordeaux is known for its major appellations and grand Châteaux, but how has this prestige come about and is there more to the Left Bank?

The left bank of Bordeaux is the long swathe of land stretching about 120 km from the coastal edge of the Gironde river all the way down the side of the Garonne with the city of Bordeaux somewhere halfway along this stretch. The upper most part of this is eaten up by the area known as Médoc, home to the most prestigious names in Bordeaux. It then passes through the Graves region and finally ends up in the south west edge where the utterly unctuous Sauternes are found.

The Left Bank is renowned for its major appellations which you will have heard of and hopefully been lucky enough to drink on occasion, including Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc and Pessac-Léognan. The Left Bank of Bordeaux is the home to all of the official 1855 Classified Bordeaux wines* (see below) and this classification is still relevant today.

The Left Bank is predominantly gravelly soils which Cabernet Sauvignon – the main grape variety in the left bank - loves. This is especially the case in the top sub-regions such as Margaux. This gravel allows for great drainage, but the stones also hold in the daytime heat to be then released slowly overnight allowing a slow ripening process. It also adds a fine mineral quality to these wines which can make them very elegant and is beautifully displayed in the La Rose de Labegorce MargauxLa Rose de Labegorce Margaux 2014

These Cabernet heavy blends also mean they have good ageing potential as the tannic quality will soften and develop over time. They also are a great match for hearty red meat dishes as the tannins will help break down and enhance the texture.

Lions de Suduiraut 2014 SauternesWe can't leave the left bank without mentioning the world class 'stickies' and its most famous dessert wine Sauternes. Made from a blend; Semillon, whose thin skins make it a perfect target for ‘noble rot' or botrytis which causes the grape to dehydrate on the vine which in turn intensifies the sweetness; Sauvignon Blanc, adds the necessary drop of acidity to brighten the wine; and sometimes Muscadelle grapes which bring a floral note. It is a wine which can be enjoyed with many desserts and also soft, rich, sweetly blue cheeses too. Try our Lions de Suduiraut.

Although the left bank is home to some of the most famous names in wine, like it's counterpart across the river, you can find some great accessible examples where quality and value go hand in hand and they still give you a real sense of the wines from this region. Try Château Cambon la Pelouse from the Haut-Médoc or Château Bernadotte bordering Pauillac as great introductions to the left bank.

As ever if you are in doubt, just ask us for more advice.

*Just to briefly explain this classification in very simple terms. In 1855 this classification was brought about to ‘rank' the wines produced in Bordeaux based on the quality of the wines and the reflected prices they commanded at the time. It applies to only the Left Bank as back then the Right Bank wasn't producing many wines which were reaching people outside of Bordeaux. The classification has 5 classes for red wines (1st growths/premier crus being the best to 5th growths/cinquième crus). 61 chateaux are in this classification, 5 of which are 1st growths. In 160 years, there have only been 3 additions which shows they got the system fairly spot on in the first place!

For more information about the Bordeaux Wines which we stock have a look at our online Catalogue and select 'Bordeaux' in the region. 

For more information on the region then have a look at the 'All About Wine' section on Bordeaux. 

Last Updated: 19/09/2019
Author: Judd Slack

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