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Friday, February 19, 2016

Bordeaux’s Right & Left Banks

              The Gironde Estuary divides the Bordeaux wine region into Right & Left Banks

Bordeaux is mecca for any serious wine lover.  This wine region is massive (eight times larger than the Napa Valley and has >7,000 wineries).  Bordeaux is divided into several districts with sub-regions.  Today, we’ll discuss the two largest areas, the Right and Left Banks---home to some of the world’s most famous wines and wine-making chateaux.

The Bordeaux wine area is naturally divided by a huge river estuary called the Gironde.  Everything west of the Gironde is referred to the “Left Bank.”  This area is also called the Medoc.  To the east of the Gironde are the "Right Bank" wine estates.   Cabernet Sauvignon is the "King" of the Medoc as the Left Bank climate and its gravel-based soils are perfect conditions for this hearty grape.  In contrast, the clay soil and harsher temperatures of the Right Bank work much better for the “Queen” of the Right Bank, Merlot.

The Left and Right Banks also differ in the size of their wineries, as well as their wine laws and classification systems.  The Medoc (Left Bank) has very large estates while the Right Bank chateaux are significantly smaller in size.  The two areas are governed by completely different wine laws and methods of classifying their wines.  The wine chateaux of the Left Bank were classified in 1855 based on which estates at that time were the best at that time (this law has only been altered once in the last 161 years).  In contrast,  the Right Bank’s laws were enacted during the 20th century, mandate that wineries be classified every 10 years.

Wine-Knows will be visiting this September both the Right and Left Banks, in addition to two additional districts in southern Bordeaux, Graves and Sauternes.   The tour is sold out, but those lucky 15 persons to have a seat will be visiting some of the world's premier wineries.

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