Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bordeaux is not only two banks and not all Bordeaux wines taste the same....

Bordeaux is not only two banks
and not all Bordeaux wines taste the same....

As a French, born in Bordeaux, and grandson of a winemaker from the Côtes de Bourg, as well as being a certified Sommelier opening, preparing, pouring and tasting Bordeaux wines for more than 25 years, I feel the need to put my fist on the table and remind people that Bordeaux is not only two banks and not all Bordeaux wines taste the same....

One can not reduce Bordeaux to only two banks and one can not say that all the Bordeaux have the same taste or taste alike, yet it is unfortunately the view of a majority of people in the world: Bordeaux is 2 banks only and both banks wines roughly taste the same…

Under that perspective, just imagine what a Bordeaux Wine Regions map could look like....

For a majority of people in the world Bordeaux is  2 banks only and both banks’ wines taste roughly the same…  Original Bordeaux Wine Regions Map courtesy of DUCLOT Revisited by LeDomduVin
For a majority of people in the world Bordeaux is 
2 banks only and both banks’ wines taste roughly the same… 
Original Bordeaux Wine Regions Map courtesy of DUCLOT
Revisited by LeDomduVin

This normally pristine Bordeaux Wine Regions Map produced for DUCLOT LA VINICOLE is of course a metaphor translating the concept of "Bordeaux is 2 Banks only"... a scary metaphor in my opinion... moreover being the vision of the majority of people in the world.

In reply to a comment on Facebook to a recent article from the newspaper "Le Monde" on the "Flying Winemaker" a.k.a. "the Wine Guru" Michel Rolland (which I posted earlier today on Facebook - read the article here) roughly saying:

"All Bordeaux have the same taste and even experts have difficulty in defining the right bank and the left bank as all Bordeaux wines taste alike."

I replied that it is quite exaggerating and exasperating to think or say such kind of things as Bordeaux is so much more complex and far more diversified than just "2 banks only and all wines taste alike", for the following reasons:

More than 9800 wine estates in Bordeaux

    • including 6 700 winegrowers 
    • including 3,775 declared or registered as private cellars "Châteaux" 
    • plus about 2,950 cooperators from 42 cooperative wineries 
    • producing more than 10,000 different wines 

Map of the Graves and Sauternes courtesy of

Right Bank Map courtesy of

Spread over 57 Appellations d'Origine Controlée (AOC)

Bordeaux Appellations Map courtesy of "Vins de Bordeaux"

Bordeaux Appellations (in Alphabetical order)

    • Barsac
    • Blaye
    • Bordeaux
    • Bordeaux Clairet
    • Bordeaux Côtes de Francs
    • Bordeaux Moelleux
    • Bordeaux Rosé
    • Bordeaux Supérieur
    • Bordeaux-Haut-Benauge
    • Cadillac
    • Canon Fronsac
    • Cérons
    • Côtes de Bordeaux-Saint-Macaire
    • Côtes de Bourg
    • Côtes de Castillon
    • Crémant de Bordeaux
    • Entre-Deux-Mers
    • Entre-Deux-Mers-Haut-Benauge
    • Fronsac
    • Graves
    • Graves de Vayres
    • Graves Supérieures
    • Haut-Médoc
    • Listrac-Médoc
    • Loupiac
    • Margaux
    • Médoc
    • Moulis-en-Médoc
    • Pauillac
    • Pessac-Léognan
    • Pomerol
    • Premières Côtes de Blaye
    • Premières Côtes de Bordeaux
    • Sainte-Croix-du-Mont
    • Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux
    • Saint-Emilion
    • Saint-Estèphe
    • Saint-Julien
    • Sauternes

Each appellation with its own particular "Terroir"  

    • Soils and Subsoils types (Geology)
    • Climate and Microclimate
    • Environment (river, lake, residential or industrial proximity)
    • Reliefs (Topography)
    • Fauna and Flora (Animals, Insects, Plants, Trees, etc..) 
"Carte Géologique du Vignoble Girondin"
from Germain Lafforgue book "Le Vignoble Girondin"
Edition Louis Larmat 1947

NB: this map is a very valuable proof of the diversity of the soils and subsoils of the vineyard of Bordeaux. I acquired the book and will soon this picture of the map by a better one, easier to read.

Carte des Sols Dominants de France - Map Courtesy of INRA

As you can see the predominant soils type of Bordeaux are

    • Left Bank: Gravelly, Clay, Sandy soils with Calcareous parts and patches
    • Right Bank: Calcareous, Clay, Gravelly soils with Sandy parts and patches
    • Entre-Deux-Mers: Clay, Gravelly soils with Sandy parts and patches

The diversity of Bordeaux soils and subsoils accounts greatly in the resulting wines too.

Le bassin sédimentaire aquitain (Image de J Fanet)

Providing each wine its own particularity and personality

    • Light
    • Fresh
    • Rich
    • Complex
    • Dry
    • Fruity
    • Ripe
    • Sweet
    • Young
    • Mature
    • Old
    • Short
    • Long
    • Tannic
    • Acidic
    • Balanced
    • Texture
    • Structure
    • Ready
    • Can Wait
    • Organic
    • Biodynamic
    • Lutte Raisonnée
    • Natural
    • Treated or not
    • Etc, etc, etc.... 

Crafted with various grape varieties 

of which the % differ on the blend depending on the appellation of production

    •  Red / Rosé
      • Cabernet Sauvignon 
      • Merlot 
      • Cabernet Franc 
      • Malbec
      • Petit Verdot
      • Carmenère
    • White - Dry / Sweet / Sparkling
      • Sauvignon Blanc
      • Semillon
      • Muscadelle
      • Sauvignon Gris

NB: Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Merlot Blanc can also be found in Bordeaux

Producing wines of all styles and colors 

Wines of all colors

Wines of all styles

And finally, atop the reasons already cited above (Appellations, Terroirs and Grape Varieties), the wines of Bordeaux also differ from one another (like any other wines in the world) due to the age of the vines, the weather, the quality of the vintage, the environment, the vinification techniques used, the ageing process (concrete vats, stainless steel vats, used oak or new oak barrels,etc..), the final blend, and so much more.. not to forget also the winemaker style, the desired wine to be produced, the effect of culture, traditions and the level of expertise on the perception of the wine intrinsic qualities and dimensions.

This list is nonexhaustive and so many other things could be added, yet that's a lot of reasons and diversities that explain quite obviously why it is impossible for all the Bordeaux Wines to taste the same!!!

Unfortunately, the public and many of the so-called "experts" and "critics" only know, recognize, reward and/or promote (at the most) the top of 500 to 600 Châteaux (history, ranking, awards, notoriety, marketing, etc. ..) and altogether reduce Bordeaux to two banks only, without taking into account the many differences (and other influential factors) of the of the wines produced in the 57 AOC of this beautiful region of Bordeaux

The comment cited above made on Facebook in response to "Le Monde" article is in my opinion the perfect example of the mass with a narrow, critical and reducing mind and spirit, and it is offensive in the eyes of all the other Bordeaux producers who are trying to change that image of "Bordeaux is 2 banks only and all wines taste alike".

Do you agree? Or do you also think that all Bordeaux are similar and that there are only two banks?


LeDomduVin a.k.a Dominique Noël


  1. This is an amazing book for wine lovers. It highlights how is a wine made. It will be liked by many. Thank you for your suggestion.

    1. I couldn't agree more. I love this book. It definitely gives you a different perspective on Bordeaux vineyard's soils and soil's intrinsic qualities and specificities

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    1. Thank you James for your comment, much appreciated. This is just a small article as a response to a comment made on Facebook, and I did not want to go into too many details as so many articles and books have been written about Bordeaux. However, I just wanted to get my point across and make a statement on that point that " Bordeaux is not only 2 banks and not all Bordeaux taste the same" et voila.... :-)

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