while new world-style wines tend to be
pleasant to sip alone, Bordeaux reds often
need food to balance their leanness.
Underrated Food Wine
Aside from top wines, red Bordeaux’s
style tends to be restrained and lean in
fruit character, juicy in acidity and light-
ly bracing in tannin. This poses quite a
contrast to New World, Bordeaux-style
wines (like those from Napa and Wash-
ington), which usually have rich fruit,
moderate acidity, creamy tannins and
toasty notes from wood aging. While
New World—style wines tend to be as
pleasant to sip alone as they are with
food. Bordeaux reds often need food to
balance their leanness. Claret can be an
ideal “go-to” wine for shoppers en route
home to prepare dinner.
Selling – Communes, Styles,
Prices and Vintages
Bottom line: there’s the question of
what to stock for your customers. I sug-
gest selecting primarily by style and
price. Then, vary the communes. Focus
on recent, easy-drinking vintages since
U.S. shoppers are most accustomed to
youthful wines. Here are some profiles I
suggest and why:
Easy Sipping, $12-$18 SRP:
Lalande de Pomerol
These wines possess the soft tannins and
Merlot-suppleness of big sister Pomerol
yet carry a more
price tag. They can
usually be enjoyed with or without food.
Value for European-Style Wine
Lovers, $10-20: Moulis or Graves
These are Left Bank communes based on
Cabernet Sauvignon and offering moder-
ate weight wines with finessed aromas.
Moulis is north of Bordeaux, and like
its well-known neighbors Margaux and
Saint Julien, it offers firmer structure than
wines from the southerly Graves region.
Value for American-Style Wine
Lovers, $10-20: Côtes de Francs
and Côtes de Castillon
These are neighboring appellations on
the Right Bank, northeast of the famous
Pomerol and St. Émilion communes.
Many young and well-trained winemak-
ers are crafting clean, ripe and exciting
wines based on Merlot and Cabernet
Franc. There are good values and dis-
coveries to be found here!
More Than Everyday, $20-30:
Second Labels of Left Bank Cru Clas-
sé wines, especially from St. Julien
These wines offer the Bordelais character
and finesse expected from top châteaux
at a reasonable price. St. Julien, in par-
ticular, offers that magic combination of
the Left Bank’s finesse and power. Also,
bank on it
bordeaux wINE REGIONS
The terms Left Bank and Right
Bank are central to the geography of
Bordeaux. The region is naturally divided
by the Gironde Estuary. The Right Bank
(shown in green) is known best for the
communes of St. Émilion and Pomerol.
The Left Bank (maroon shades) includes
the Médoc peninsula and Graves. The
region of Entre-Deux-Mers (literally
“between two seas”) lies between the
Garonne and Dordogne rivers, which
combine to form the Gironde.
A rather new designation, Côtes de
Bordeaux—encompassing a handful of
perimeter appellations, including Blaye,
Côtes de Blaye, Premières Côtes de
Blaye, Côtes de Bourg, Premières Côtes
de Bordeaux, Côtes de Castillon, Côtes
de Francs and Graves de Vayres—actu-
ally stretches across 60 miles of land.
This umbrella name was created for
maketing purposes, to raise the visibility
of the regions as a whole as they are not
well understood individually. The wines
are primarily red and only 15% of these
wines are exported.
Scenes from the Right Bank: Vines growing just outside the town center
of St. Émilion; two scenes from nearby Côtes de Bordeaux.