Bordeaux wine course - French Wine School

Bordeaux

Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot

World heritage city, prosperous, commercially savvy and aristocratic.

climate: oceanic

Get to know Bordeaux

Bordeaux, hub of the revered wine-growing region, is a port city on the Garonne River in southwestern France, its graceful architecture and charm compared favourably with Paris.

Known for its Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, 18th to 19th-century mansions and notable art museums, today you’ll find a revitalized village atmosphere within a pedestrian-friendly city center, public gardens lining the river quays and a thriving waterfront area with chic boutiques and cafés

Recently (2016) La Cite du Vin opened, an interpretive wine museum devoted to world wines, which confirms Bordeaux’s place as the epicentre of world wine commerce and culture.

Today, Bordeaux is considered the wine capital of the world.

The Left Bank

Stretching from the Medoc Peninsula to Graves, whilst relatively level and flat, also has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Gironde in the Haut Medoc with gently rolling valleys and wetlands bordering the Garonne, crisscrossed by streams.

The countryside is home to several species of rare flora and fauna, protected by the classification Natura 2000 as a preserved wetland. There are also 100 kms of fine sandy beaches and a cycle path which runs along the Atlantic coast for 126 kms, from Verdun-sur-Mer to Arcachon.

Pictured: Image by Christophe DUCOURRET-GRAVEREAU from Pixabay

Of course the exceptional wines are why we are here, and in the heart of the Medoc the D2 wine route winds along a beautiful road with castle after castle with remarkable architecture:

This famous castle route may only be 86 kms long from top to bottom but it passes several of the most famous wine names in the world, such as Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Julien and Moulis.

Wine from the Left Bank are red wine only and produced predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon with lesser amounts of Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc as blending additions. These are serious full bodied, dry red wines that can be aged for decades.

Pictured: Saint-Julien

The Right Bank

To the east of the Gironde Estuary and the Dordogne River comprises a string of small hills from Castillon to Blaye with a low lying plateau and deep valleys.
St Emilion is renowned not only for its wines but for the town itself, dominating the Dordogne valley from its hilltop position. This vineyard make up the first vineyards in the world to be awarded the title of ‘Cultural Landscape’ by UNESCO on the World Heritage List in 1999 as a historical landscape that remains intact and continues as a working activity.

Vineyards from Saint-Emilion wine routes are also very different in layout to the rest of Bordeaux. Their compact, dense configuration resembles more that of Bourgogne. It is home to famous appellations such as St. Emilion, Pomerol, Bourg and Blaye. Whilst the village of St Emilion is the jewel in the crown, the busy market town of Libourne is the hub of this region. The right bank produces predominantly Merlot based wines blended with Cabernet Franc. The wines tend to be more supple with soft plummy fruit. Soils here are dramatically different between certain wine( Pomerol vs St Emilion for example) Limestone soils delivers wines of silky tannins and high acidity and the iron rich clay add a touch of prune and walnut.

Pictured: Winery in Saint-Emilion | Image by Victoria Al-Taie from Pixabay

Entre-deux-Mers

With a wine history dating back to Romans 2,000 years ago, wine produced by the Benedictine Monks in the middle ages established Entre-Deux-Mers reputation where sweet white wine produced by the monks was offered to pilgrims on the route to Santiago de Compostela. The remains of their 11c Abbey La Sauve Majeure have been declared a protected site by UNESCO.

Pictured: Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Locally known as a very welcoming region, lots of wineries are still family owned and run with warmth and hospitality.

This area possesses all of Bordeaux’s soil types. Red blends can be Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon based. White blends are Sauvignon Blanc based.

Originally renowned for its white blends, this region now makes more red blends, and wonderful semi-sweet and sweet white wines mostly located in the communes alongside the rivers where they share a similar climate.

Planning your trip

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dordogne 2000px-tiny

Wine regions to visit in Bordeaux

Bordeaux is the number 1 AOC/AOP wine producing region in France for wine volume.

On the left bank there are 8 AOC/AOPs in Médoc producing red wine only. The overwhelming majority being Cabernet-Sauvignon-based blends due to its warm gravel soils.

Graves & Sauternes comprises 6 AOC/AOPs producing Cabernet Sauvignon blends in Graves and sweet white wines in Sauternes and its sub regions.

Entre-Deux-Mers has 11 AOC/AOPs spread across undulating terrain with the highest elevation in all of Bordeaux. With its different soil types it produces a variety of red, white and sweet wines.

On the right bank the Libournais have 10 AOC/AOPs. Producing Merlot and Cabernet Franc, they express themselves with striking aromas thanks to the iron-rich soils.

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kelsey-knight-449204-unsplash 1500

Bordeaux wine events

Bordeaux Wine Festival (June). 

Held every two years, the next one is in 2020, so start packing your bags for a celebration of Bordeaux and regional wines!  Winemakers set up stands along the city’s UNESCO riverfront. The festival has a large local following, and in 2020 will include fireworks and a tall ship regatta.  Bordeaux Wine School usually has a pavilion with educational events about the different regions of Bordeaux.

Of course, the Bordeaux region has many smaller events which celebrate wine throughout the year. These tend to change, so best to consult this list, updated regularly.

Want to learn more about Bordeaux?

Experience Bordeaux by taking an online course, attending a tasting or travelling to the region for yourself.

Online Courses

Learn more about Bordeaux through an interactive online course

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Tastings & Events

Join a Bordeaux wine tasting event and connect with the FWS Community

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Travel Experiences

Learn more about Bordeaux by travelling to the region

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