5 (outdated) Clichés about Bordeaux
When thinking of Bordeaux, perhaps a few clichés come to mind. You wouldn’t be the first…But what if we told you that these come from a time long gone, one that doesn’t reflect our region today? If you haven’t had a Bordeaux wine in a while, you’re in for a big surprise! Today, the region is undergoing a veritable revolution of viticulture and style, and is teeming with diversity. Really? Really. That said, we understand your skepticism, and so we’ve done the math for you on a few outdated stereotypes that just don’t hold water. (Feel free to check our work by trying some for yourself!)
“Bordeaux is too expensive!”
Not so! The classified growths in Bordeaux represent a mere 3% of total Bordeaux production, and these are the wines so often associated with intimidating prices on the international market. So what about the rest of Bordeaux? It may come as a surprise, but the average price per bottle in the region is 20 dollars! Small, family properties are producing high quality wines at prices that make filling up your cellar a much friendlier process. This makes Bordeaux a treasure-trove of affordable wines (both red and white) with the particular advantage of generations of savoir-faire and tradition. Trying a new wine from Bordeaux means that your palate and your bank account will thank you.
“Bordeaux is reserved for dinners with grandpa”
Some of us remember those family dinners with wine aged for decades in grandpa’s cellar. A bit ceremonial, and not an every-day affair. While those vins de garde can be incredible, they are not always your wine of choice for a drink with friends. But today’s Bordeaux is full of affordable wines that are fresh, fruit-forward, and enjoyable for all sorts of occasions. While they can still be aged, recent vintages are much more accessible young; and since the region is uniquely diverse in its varietals and styles, there is a Bordeaux wine for every dish: start the evening with a dry white from Pessac-Leognan, have a Fronsac with dinner, and finish with a Sauternes for dessert! What’s more, Bordeaux has a wide range of excellent rosé wines perfect for summer, as well as a “crémant” (sparkling) offer. Yes, you can even get your bubbles from Bordeaux!
“Red Bordeaux is heavy and oaky!”
The wine world went through a rebellious teenager phase, with some regions getting a little too excited with oak and extraction. But things have changed! Today’s Bordeaux wines are less extracted (so easier to drink young), see less time in new oak, and are lower in alcohol. Indeed, today’s reds are supple, fresh, and expressive even in their youth. Some reds don’t see any oak at all, as amphoras and concrete vessels have found their way to wineries across Bordeaux. A combination of sustainable practices in the vineyard and key decisions in the winery have led to brighter, balanced wines that really put to rest this old stereotype.
“Bordeaux is (just) a red wine region”
Bordeaux is full of fantastic red wines, but that’s far from the whole story. Dry white wines are one of Bordeaux’s best kept secrets, and we want to let you in on it! These are composed primarily of the grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, but include Muscadelle and others as well. Sauvignon Blanc is a well-known international varietal, but its expression in Bordeaux is unique. What’s more, the white Bordeaux blend is (like its red counterpart) an art unto itself, as it varies from producer to producer based upon the desired result and the diversity of their terroirs. This leads to a whole range of delicious whites, from lively and fruity to more structured and generous styles: a white for every occasion.
“Bordeaux is a region of business-suits and corporations”
White collar, or open collar? Bordeaux has had a reputation for formality and a stuffy atmosphere. The reality, however, is that the new generation leading Bordeaux into the future paints a very different picture! Small, family-owned properties are in abundance in Bordeaux, and these modern winemakers are demonstrating the diversity that Bordeaux is capable of through renewed interest in lesser-known grapes from the region, diverse blends, and a real commitment to the environment. Authentic properties with a story to tell, making wines which express their local terroir. What’s more, these producers are not afraid to get dirt under their fingernails. Indeed, it’s hard not to with the green revolution going on in the vineyard and on their properties!
Bordeaux is much more than a few stereotypes may suggest. We hope this quick glance at a few outdated clichés will motivate you to find out more, but there’s only one way to be sure we’re right…Go out and try these wines for yourself!