Wine Questions: is it true that the more well-known the grape variety, the better the wine?
Bordeaux Magazine US
May 14, 2024

Wine Questions: is it true that the more well-known the grape variety, the better the wine?

You have surely been in this situation: you’re scanning a wine list in a restaurant and you see the names of familiar grape varieties and others that are more mysterious. And that’s where the doubt kicks in: how do you make the right decision? “Go for the Merlot, it’s the most well-known. The cuvée will obviously be better!”, says your friend who is always sure of himself. Really? Let’s examine this common belief!

Grape varieties as the stars of Bordeaux wines: a wonderful line-up!

Of course, the Bordeaux wine region is often associated with star grape varieties. Among them are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, its two predominant red grape varieties. As for the white wines, we also have two celebrities: Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.

But alongside these headliners, other grape varieties also have a lot going for them! For the red wines, there’s , Carménère, Malbec and Petit Verdot. For the white wines, there’s Muscadelle, Sauvignon Gris, Colombard, Merlot Blanc and Ugni Blanc. These less well-known varieties are in fact bursting with qualities which can make all the difference

Blending, showing there’s strength in numbers

In Bordeaux, we love to play on the complementarity of different grape varieties in the same cuvée, whether they are popular or less well-known: this is known as blending! An example? For red wines, the power of Cabernet Sauvignon can be enhanced by a few soft hints of Malbec.

The result of this signature expertise? An incredible diversity of styles: from wines best enjoyed young to wines worth ageing, sweet white wines to dry rosés, very subtle wines to distinctively assertive wines… there is a wine to suit all tastes and all occasions. But always with the same motto in mind: pleasure and quality!

Single-varietal wines and rising stars

While blending is one of the typical characteristics of Bordeaux wines, single-varietal cuvées (made from a single grape variety) are increasingly popular. And if you think that only Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc are good enough for this lead role, think again…

Excellent dry white wines made from 100% Muscadelle or red wines made from 100% Carménère (to name just a few !) are now taking centre stage. Little-known grape varieties are just starting to win over palates…

To sum up, the idea that well-known grape varieties make better wines couldn’t be further from the truth! In Bordeaux, quality is not synonymous with popularity, but rather diversity… Want to put an end to other clichés? Then join the Bordeaux Crew on social media!


Celebrating Christmas with four generations of winegrowers at Château de Garbes.

Scenes From The Vineyard Winter Edition: Why We Prune

Bordeaux is back! Experience the Bordeaux revolution with chef Gabe Kennedy