A few pointers for this vast leading wine region

500 village communes

130 km long

110 km wide

120 000 hectares of vines

57 appellations d’origine contrôlée

14 000 domaines or estates

7 million hectolitres, three quarters of which is red wine

Exports: 40% of Bordeaux wines

Benoît France

Benoît France

Five subregions, from south to north heading towards the sea

1. The Left Bank of the Garonne: the Graves, the Médoc


Soil gravel and pebbles

AOCs Graves, Graves supérieur, Sauternes area and village appellations: Pessac-Léognan and, for dessert wines Cérons, Barsac and Sauternes (in the village communes of Sauternes, Fargues, Bommes, Preignac and Barsac).

Grape varieties

For red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and, less common, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenère.

For whites including sweet wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.

The ‘cru’ or vineyard hierarchy: 16 châteaux are classified as ‘premier cru’ or first growth and ‘crus classés’ or classed growths. In Sauternes, there are three distinct categories: ‘Premier grand cru’ or First great growth, ‘Premiers crus’ or First growths and ‘Deuxièmes crus’ or Second growths.

Worth visiting: the châteaux, such as Château de Malle in the Sauternes area.



16,000 ha

8 appellation areas: Haut-Médoc, Médoc; village commune AOCs of Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe.

Poor soil yet with good drainage and heat retention due to stones and gravel. Forests offer protection from bad weather coming off the sea. The river helps moderate temperatures.

Main grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon. Others: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenère.

The ‘cru’ or vineyard hierarchy (or châteaux): 1) ‘Premiers crus’ or First growths 2) ‘Deuxièmes crus’ or Second growths 3) ‘Troisièmes crus’ or Third growths 4) ‘Quatrièmes crus’ or Fourth growths 5) ‘Cinquièmes crus’ or Fifth growths 6) ‘Crus bourgeois’ (split into crus bourgeois exceptionnels, crus bourgeois supérieurs and just crus bourgeois!) 7) ‘Crus artisans’ and others.

Médoc châteaux wine route

From Bordeaux take the D2 road: Château Margaux, Saint-Julien with Châteaux Lagrange, Léoville and Talbot. Pauillac and Châteaux Latour, Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild. Saint-Estèphe and Château Montrose...

Useful site

2. Entre-Deux-Mers

Soils: mostly clay but with a lot of local variation.

Grape varieties

For reds: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. For dry whites: Sauvignon Blanc. Sweet whites: Sémillon and Muscadelle.

Appellation areas: AOC Premières Côtes de Bordeaux: red wines, sweet and very sweet whites, ‘clairet’ or deep coloured rosé - AOC Entre-deux-mers: dry whites only - AOC Entre-deux-mers Haut-benauge: sweet and medium dry whites - AOC Bordeaux Haut-benauge: sweet and medium dry whites - AOC Graves-de-vayre: reds and dry whites - AOC Ste-foy Bordeaux: dry and sweet whites, red wines - AOC Côtes-de-bordeaux St-macaire: dry and sweet whites - AOC Ste-Croix-du-mont: dessert whites - AOC Loupiac: dessert whites - AOC Cadillac: dessert whites.

Wine route: the D671 road from Sauveterre de Guyenne to Bordeaux.

Useful sites

3. The right bank of the Dordogne, then the Garonne: Libourne area


Variety of soils: the St-Emilion limestone plateau (deep drainage and water reserves), gravel in Pomerol and shingle in the Fronsac area.

Merlot is the principal variety, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon.

AOCs: Côtes de Castillon, Côtes de Francs, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Saint-Emilion village satellites: Montagne St-Emilion, Lussac St-Emilion and Puisseguin St-Emilion; Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Canon-Fronsac, Fronsac, as well as Bordeaux et Bordeaux supérieur.

Worth seeing: the historic village of Petrus located on the highest hillock of the Pomerol appellation, in the Saint-Emilion area, classified as a World Heritage Site; and for example Châteaux Bel Air, Vieux Château Certan or Franc-Mayne. (And see if you can find legendary Le Pin…)

Useful websites

Union de Producteurs de Saint-Emilion

Maison du vin de saint-Emilion

Maison des Vins de l'Union des Satellites de Saint-Emilion


AOCs Côtes-de-Bourg, Blaye, Côtes-de-blaye, Premières-côtes-de-blaye

Useful sites

Useful sites

Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (producers’ association for the whole region)

Tourist map
Vineyards of Bordeaux 

Growers’ blogs

Site par Neteor