Arguably the most prestigious and desirable wine blend in the world, Red Bordeaux is always made by blending Merlot wine and Cabernet Sauvignon wine together. The proportion of Merlot or Cab in a particular blend depends on the location of the vineyard in Bordeaux – the famous wine-making region of Western France.
The Gironde Estuary cuts through the center of the Bordeaux region, creating a left (western) bank and right (eastern) bank. The proportion of Cab to Merlot inside each Bordeaux blend actually depends on the winery’s location on either side of the Gironde. When located on the Left Bank, the winery produces a blend that will have more Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot. You guessed it – Right Bank wineries will create blends with majority Merlot over Cab. These qualities help us to make some general assumptions about the Bordeaux Red depending on which bank it’s winery resides.
The Left Bank wineries (the bank that made the region famous) produce blends with higher levels of alcohol, acidity, and tannins. These wines are robust, rich and complex; and are said to age slightly better than wines produced on the right bank.
The Merlot dominant blends of the Right Bank wineries are known to have lower levels of alcohol, tannins and acidity. These wines require less ageing, are typically less expensive, and usually much more juicy than wines of the Left Bank.
The success of Bordeaux can be boiled down to one simple trait: it’s location. Bordeaux not only possess an ideal climate and soil for growing grapes, but, due to the fact that it’s served as a major port city for centuries, it also gave the local winemakers the opportunity to access different regions of the world via its visitors. Unlike Burgundy, another famous wine region that is completely landlocked, Bordeaux was able to capitalize on the ships and wealthy merchants that filled its port daily, always sending them off with wine.