A Wine Collector’s Guide to the Communes of Bordeaux

A Wine Collector’s Guide to the Communes of Bordeaux

Whether you’re buying wine at auction, online or in-store, here’s what you need to know about the communes of Bordeaux, France.
Chapters
Whether you’re buying wine at auction, online or in-store, here’s what you need to know about the communes of Bordeaux, France.

B ordeaux is a singular region, yet there is a great diversity among the wines produced there. This is a result of many factors including varietals grown, topography and soil, microclimate and the stylistic decisions made by the Châteaux themselves.

Here’s a quick guide explaining some of the broad sweeping differences between each major subregion.

THE COMMUNES, OR SUBREGIONS, OF BORDEAUX ARE COMMONLY DIVIDED BETWEEN THOSE ON THE LEFT BANK AND RIGHT BANK OF THE GIRONDE ESTUARY AND ITS TWO RIVERS, THE DORDOGNE AND THE GARONNE.

Left Bank

Saint-Estèphe

Saint-Estèphe is the northernmost commune. The winemakers of this region produce reds dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, often displaying earthy and savory aromas even in their youth. Saint-Estèphe wines are known for their distinct tannic profile, a result of a slightly cooler microclimate and a unique gravel and clay mixture in the soil.

Top Châteaux include: Montrose, Cos d’Estournel and Calon-Ségur.


Pauillac

The Pauillac commune is perhaps the most famous commune in all of Bordeaux due to its three first growths: Châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Latour and Mouton Rothschild. 

The Pauillac terroir is unique for the natural drainage provided by its gravel. Young wines from this appellation tend to have a good tannic structure while displaying intensity, power and a concentration of their fruit qualities.

Top Châteaux include: Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Pichon Lalande, Pichon Baron and Lynch Bages.


Saint-Julien

Saint-Julien has a fairly uniform gravel surface including a complex clay and limestone soil layer that makes this commune’s wine production quite diverse. Saint-Julien wines fall between the powerful Pauillac and the elegant Margaux, and are known for their intense yet subtle notes of fruit and tobacco.

Top Châteaux include: Léoville Las Cases, Léoville Barton, Beychevelle and Ducru Beaucaillou.


Margaux

Margaux is situated in a key area benefiting from the region’s mild winters and summers. The unique landscape of gravely hilltops along with the gravel- and pebble-rich soil encourage deep root growth and, therefore, high-quality grapes. The wine from this region is known for its elegance and tends to have a floral perfume and a silky texture.

Top Châteaux include: Margaux, Palmer and Rauzan-Ségla.


Pessac-Léognan

The Pessac-Léognan subregion is located just south of the city of Bordeaux and is home to another First Growth: Château Haut Brion. The terroir is covered in hills with a mineral-rich soil that provides a mineral quality to its famous wines, both red and white. The well-drained, gravelly soils are particularly favorable to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Top Châteaux include: Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.


Right Bank

Pomerol

Pomerol is the smallest appellation with some of the smallest estates in Bordeaux — but it is also home to its most sought after and expensive wines. Merlot is the most famous grape here, grown extensively across the plateau. The iron-rich clay soils, known as crasse de fer, produce wines of extraordinary depth and showcase Merlot at its finest.

Top Châteaux include: Pétrus, Le Pin, Lafleur and Trotanoy.


Saint-Émilion

Saint-Émilion is situated on a limestone plateau. The chalky-clay makeup of the soils is particularly favorable to Cabernet Franc and Merlot, producing wines that show more fruit character, velvety tannins, and finesse with a rounded body.

Top Châteaux include: Cheval Blanc, Angélus and Figeac.

Wine

About the Author

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

Close
arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top