It is easy to forget just how extensive the Bordeaux wine region is: until a few years ago it made more wine than the whole of Australia, and it is still responsible for around one in every eight bottles of wine made in France. Red wine from Bordeaux is known in the UK as claret and while around half is simple Appellation Bordeaux Controlée the best examples are keenly sought-after by connoisseurs and collectors and are undoubtedly among the world’s finest wines.
Basic Bordeaux AOC wines can come from anywhere in the Gironde Départment in southwest France. They are designed for drinking young and are usually not very expensive. The reds tend to be mainly Merlot, blended with a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon. Some properties may also add a little Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot.
The highest quality clarets come from the ‘left bank’ (the Haut-Médoc and Graves) or the ‘right bank’ (St-Emilion and Pomerol). The Left Bank is Cabernet country, and here you’ll find the majority of Bordeaux’s most famous chateaux. In the Haut-Médoc, north of Bordeaux town, you have the wine communes of Margaux, St.-Julien and Pauillac and St.-Estephe. Further inland from the Gironde estuary are Moulis and Listrac, which are less well known but great hunting ground for value.