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Wine harvest|© Bill Williams / Unsplash
Wine harvest|© Bill Williams / Unsplash
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An Essential Wine Lover's Guide to Bordeaux

Picture of Jennifer Migan
Updated: 2 October 2017
Although her crown of “Wine’s world capital” has been disputed/challenged over the past years, Bordeaux is still dominating the chateau-owning race by far and the region’s vintages still top the list of international wine experts. If you are a wine lover or a newbie in “the art of wine,” this is what you need to know. For those who are not experts, wine classification can be a little overwhelming. Bordeaux wines are classified in order of seniority.

The 1855 classification

The 1885 classification is the most prestigious rank and includes red wines from the Médoc, the Sauternes, one Graves red cru, and Barsac sweet white wines. The Château Haut-Brion (Pessac, AOC Pessac-Léognan), the Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Latour, (Pauillac, AOC Pauillac), or the Château Margaux, (Margaux, AOC Margaux) are all premiers crus (first growth) wines. Their exceptional pedigree and worldwide recognition make them very pricey.

Chateau Haut-Brion|
Chateau Haut-Brion| | © BillBl /Flickr

Locations and Phone Numbers:

Château Haut-Brion, 135 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Pessac, France, +33 5 56 00 29 30

Château Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac, France, +33 5 56 73 18 18

Château Mouton Rothschild, Lieu-Dit Le Pouyalet, Pauillac, France, +33 5 56 73 20 20

Château Latour, Route Des Chateaux, Pauillac, France, +33 5 56 73 19 80

Château Margaux, +33 5 57 88 83 83

The Graves Classification

The Graves classification consists of 16 red and white wines. The name is derived from its gravely soil. The Graves is definitely a key area of the regional wine sector. Although the subregion of Bordeaux mainly produces wines, it distinguishes itself by being the only subregion to have three major wine types (red, dry whites, and sweet wines).

Locations and Phone Numbers:

Château Pape Clément, 216 Avenue Dr Nancel Penard, Pessac, +33 5 57 26 38 38

Château Graves de Pez, 4 Chemin de Fontauge, Saint-Estèphe, France, +33 6 78 87 88 24

The Saint-Émilion Classification

What makes Saint-Émilion wines so special is the exceptional geological diversity. This particularity and the area’s microclimate are the perfect combination for viticulture activities and premium harvest quality. Besides, the professional’s thorough savoir faire allow merlot wines with a dominant grape to always have optimum maturing conditions. In addition to that, the smart mix of grapes, such a dominant merlot with a cabernet sauvignon and many other gives Saint-Émilion wines a large olfactory and gustatory nuances that is very much appreciated by connoisseurs.

Château Cheval Blanc
Château Cheval Blanc | ©Benjamin Zingg /WikiCommons

Location and Phone Number:

Château Grand Corbin, Saint-Émilion, France, +33 5 57 25 20 30

The Crus Bourgeois du Médoc Classification

The Médoc is reputed for its numerous natural spaces but also for being the home of the world’s most famous vineyards and grands crus. The very high concentration of Saint-Esthèphe appellation, on the plateau south and west of the village, will delight all wine enthusiasts. You should plan a day trip to drive along the mythic “Route des Châteaux” (Castles road), which to wine enthusiasts is as iconic as the U.S Road 66 to bikers. In this unique experience, you will drive past over a hundred of chateaus.

Vineyard in Moulis|
Vineyard in Moulis| | © Berndt Fernow/WikiCommons

Location and Phone Number:

Château Chasse-Spleen, 32 Chemin de la Razé, Moulis-en-Médoc, France, +33 5 56 58 02 37

The Crus Artisans Classification

The Château Margaux classification designates Médoc wines that have been selected to be mentioned as such after fitting all the requirements of the European Wine and Rural Development Commission. In addition to its quality and value, the wine needs to be produced in a less than five hectares property and in one of the eight Médoc appellations: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, and Saint-Estèphe.

Location and Phone Number:

Château Margaux, +33 5 57 88 83 83

Now that you are acquainted with all the technicalities of Bordeaux wine, you need to learn where to test your freshly acquired knowledge at the best wine bars in town. Bordeaux has a plethora of great wine bars that will suit whichever mood you are in. As the last days of Indian summer are falling, take the opportunity to chill at the city’s terraces’ bars and enjoy the intimate atmosphere of wine bars all around town. Check out our list of the best wine bars in Bordeaux and pick your spot for a successful evening. Taking a wine tour is also a great way to discover some of the region’s finest vintages. Vineries owners are devoted to their profession and they will effortlessly communicate their passion to you.

Blind wine tasting
Blind wine tasting | © Burst /Pexels

You can’t be in Bordeaux without visiting the Cité du Vin, the gigantic architectural masterpiece in the Bassin à Flots neighborhood, which could be compared to a Disneyland for wine lovers. Besides, this impressive building regularly hosts conferences so you can leave the town with even more knowledge on the topic.

As your wine tour around Bordeaux is coming to an end, don’t forget to buy a couple of bottles of the crus you enjoyed during your trip. L’Intendant is definitely the place to go to find the best of the best. The warm welcome and the world-class knowledge of the staff is a major plus. Even if you end up not buying anything, the impressive five floors and the superb staircase is worth the visit.

Inside l’Intendant wine shop
Inside l’Intendant wine shop | © syvwlch /Flickr

Locations and Phone Numbers:

Cité du Vin, 134 Quai de Bacalan, Bordeaux, France, +33 5 56 16 20 20

L’Intendant, 2 Allée de Tourny, Bordeaux, France, +33 5 56 48 01 29

Hopefully, you feel more comfortable with this additional information, but in the end, a good wine is a wine you like.