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.
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.
Saint-Estèphe Wines at Auction
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.
Pauillac Wines at Auction
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.
Saint-Julien Wines at Auction
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.
Margaux Wines at Auction
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.
Pessac-Léognan Wines at Auction
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.
Pomerol Wines at Auction
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.