The Left Bank and Right Bank of Bordeaux
Many people often wonder about the left bank and right bank of Bordeaux. The Bordeaux region is, in fact, divided by the Gironde River. The two regions separating Bordeaux as a result are the left bank and the right bank.
The left Bank includes the Médoc and the subregions of Pauillac, Saint Estephe, Saint Julien, Margaux and Graves, which also includes Pessac Leognan. These are the appellations of the left bank in Bordeaux, which is also home to the first growth wines from the official 1855 Bordeaux Classification; Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
The Bordeaux right bank includes the subregions of Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Bourg and Blaye. Although the right bank was not included in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, it is also home to some of the world’s most expensive and prestigious wines; Chateau Petrus, Chateau Le Pin, Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc. In 1954 however, a new classification was established only for the Saint-Émilion region which includes the Cheval Blanc and the Ausone estates. The factual top-flight wines from the right bank (Petrus and Le Pin) have not officially been classified, albeit being the most expensive and rare wines in the globe.
Map of the Bordeaux Region
Furthermore there are highly notable differences between the left and right banks of Bordeaux’s wine growing regions. Within the left bank the vineyards are fairly large, connected to highly rated Chateaux that have been producing the best wines in the global wine market for centuries. Vineyard sizes of the right bank in Bordeaux are noticeably smaller than those of the left bank, which is also why certain wines of the right bank are rarer, more expensive and in some cases even less accessible.
Usually wines from the right bank in Bordeaux are made with a high percentage of Merlot, as Merlot dominates the right bank. Generally right bank wines are fruitier, softer, and certainly more approachable (due to less tannin, especially for younger vintages) compared to left bank wines produced in the Bordeaux region.
Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the Bordeaux left bank and that results in the left bank wines having more intense flavors and tannin, and being rather forceful in taste. However, research and history has proven that left bank wines, due to the higher level of tannin in Cabernet Sauvignon perhaps, tend to provide these wines with fabulous structure and higher ageing potential.
While in recent years, the left bank has predominantly been the leader of Bordeaux wines, in reality that is not the case at all. As mentioned, certain wines from the right bank are rarer and more expensive than wines from the left bank, and have produced very attractive investment returns; food for thought perhaps…
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