An introduction to Bordeaux

Play Video
Tim Sykes, buyer for Bordeaux gives a quick introduction to wines of the region. Video transcript

Video transcript

My name is Tim Sykes. I'm the Bordeaux buyer for The Wine Society. 

Bordeaux is France's largest wine growing region. It's based in the South-West of France. It's quite close to the Atlantic and the climate is a maritime climate which is ideally suited for growing grapes. Bordeaux has a very wide range of styles of wine, from red wines, it’s mainly red and you get medium to full-bodied wines. You also get dry white wines. You get delicious sweet wines from Sauternes. And there's even a bit of sparkling and rosé produced in the area. But it's predominantly a red wine area, and Bordeaux is often known as claret in Britain. Claret is synonymous with red Bordeaux. 

The grape varieties in Bordeaux are several. For red wines, the two main varieties are merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and, depending where the wines are grown, you get different proportions of both those varieties. Under £10, merlot is the predominant grape variety, sometimes with an addition of either cabernet sauvignon or the other cabernet, cabernet franc. Merlot tends to produce nice, plush, rounded, soft wines. Above £10, you get the more serious wines and you tend to get wines that are aged in oak barrels.

For white wines, the two main varieties are sauvignon and semillon. Sometimes they are separately bottled, sometimes they are blended together. 

Bordeaux is split into two main regions and, depending which region the wine comes from, you'll get different proportions of varieties. On the left bank of Bordeaux, in regions like the Médoc, you tend to get predominantly cabernet sauvignon grown, so the wines have a little bit more structure and a bit more grip. And on the right bank, you tend to get merlot-dominant wines, and those are softer and rounder and generally a little bit more easy drinking. 

Well, I hope this has whetted your appetite for Bordeaux. If you're interested to learn more, you can consult our Bordeaux regional guide, which is on our website, and if you are new to Bordeaux, a good starting point might be The Wine Society's Claret and The Wine Society's Bordeaux Sauvignon, which are typical examples of their type and will give you a good first impression of Bordeaux. 

And then if you want to spend a little bit more money and become a little bit more adventurous, then try our Exhibition range, where we have several reds and a lovely Sauternes as well. 

Fine Bordeaux

Fine Bordeaux wines

Classic bottles that set the tone for style from both traditional and up-and-coming regions.

Bordeaux 2021

En primeur offer: Bordeaux 2021

View the wines from the 2021 vintage

Most popular Bordeaux wines

Bordeaux articles

2021 Bordeaux vintage overview

2021 Bordeaux vintage overview

Tim Sykes gives us his first impressions on the character of the wines ahead of our en primeur offers.

Learn more
What makes a good Bordeaux vintage?

What makes a good Bordeaux vintage?

Sebastian Payne MW asks what makes certain years great, and has the definition changed over time?

Learn more
Back to top