First famous commune on Route des Chateaux when you come from Bordeaux town. Wines here are gracious, refined and sophisticated, very aromatic and silky.
Margaux is housing no less than 21 classified chateaux, more than Pauillac, St. Julien and St. Estephe. Chateau Margaux is the only 1. Growth in this commune. There are 1413 has of vines and Margaux includes villages of Arsac, Cantenac, Labarde, Margaux and Soussans in the appellation. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most used grape variety here, followed by Merlot and Petit Verdot. The soil here is mostly fine gravel with little clay underneath.
Margaux wines are generally lighter than ones from f.i. Pauillac and St.Estephe and will go well with veal, lamb, chicken, and birds.
Places to eat - Le Savoie, 1 place Temoille 33460 Margaux, on the left side of the road just when you leave the village of Margaux, close to City Hall. Then Brasserie du Lac, 5 route de l'ile Vincent, Margaux, bistro of Relais de Margaux and intimate La Gare Gourmande, 3, Routes des Chateaux, Labarde.
Wines from Saint-Julien are generally lighter than those from Saint Estephe and Pauillac but tend to have more bodies than those from Margaux. They can be elegant and gracious and also powerful and tannic.
This commune is the smallest one of all four mentioned here, with only 900 ha of vineyards. It's home to 11 classified Growths, none of them 1. Growths, but there are five 2. Growths. Among these 3 Leovilles - Leoville Las Cases, Leoville Barton and Leoville Poyferre. The soil here is gravel on the surface and clay, sometimes blended with fine gravel in the subsoil. Also, here Cabernet Sauvignon rules with the great help of Merlot and Petit Verdot.
Saint Julien wines suit very well dishes made from lamb, veal, beef and venison.
Places to eat - Le Saint Julien, 11 rue du Saint Julien, 33250 Saint-Julien-Beychevelle. I ate there in October 2018, and it was a great experience. Highly recommended. Another place in Saint Julien to eat delicious food for small money is Chez Mémé, 30 Rue de Saint-Julien. Quick service and very popular among locals.
Like in Saint Estephe, wines are very concentrated, powerful and with a strong backbone. Cabernet Sauvignon is the king here and gives wines the scent of tobacco/tobacco leaves, mint, bacon, cigar box and graphite.
Very famous commune, mainly because it's home to three 1. Crus, Lafite, Latour and Mouton Rothschild, out of Bordeaux' 5 1.Growths. The soil here has the deepest layer of gravel in the whole of Bordeaux - up to app. 40 meters deep! There are 1200 has of planted vines.
Wines from Pauillac need strong dishes, so anything made from beef, venison and pork suits wines very well.
Places to eat - Cafe Lavinal in the Bages village, just close to Chateau Lynch Bages. Reasonable prices, tasty food and an impressive wine list. If you wish for more sophisticated cuisine and luxurious surroundings, check out Cordeillan Bages (situated close to Lynch Bages), both hotel and a restaurant. High-class French cuisine.
Home of deeply coloured wines, tannic, strong and powerful. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot rule here, and Petit Verdot provides a great addition of backbone and depth to wines when it's ripe. The best estates are situated close to 7 km long Gironde river banks, which secure a great micro-climate.
The best estates are situated close to 7 km long Gironde river banks, which secure a great micro-climate. Saint Estephe covers 1370 ha of vineyards, and soil here is mostly gravel of different sizes on the surface with clay and limestones as subsoil. There are 5 classified Growths (none 1. Growth). Cos d'Estournel, Montrose, Calon Segur, Lafon Rochet and Cos Labory, and the whole 37 Cru Bourgeois (largest number of CB in one commune for whole Bordeaux). Among the latter, Capbern, Haut Marbuzet, Meyney and Phelan Segur are great value for money.
St.Estephe wines go very well with dishes made from especially lamb, beef, venison and pork.
A place to eat - I recommend Le Peyrat, 19 Littoral, 33180 Saint-Estephe, overlooking Gironde river, close to the vineyard of Montrose. Small restaurant, mostly frequented by local people, lorry drivers and workers from neighbouring chateaux. Very few tourists know this place. Tasty food, cheap and very kind hosts. When I'm in Bordeaux and visit St.Estephe, I always go there with my friends to have lunch. I have eaten at Le Peyrat 8 times - not a single disappointment!
Produces both white and red wines. White wines are mostly made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, they only undergo alcoholic fermentation to preserve their freshness and aromas. Scents of acacia flower, lemon/lemongrass, and green apple are often found in these wines. The best wines can keep for a long time - 15-20 years or longer. Red wines cover many different styles, from elegant and refined to strong and powerful.
White wines are perfect for drinking with smoked and grilled salmon, various seafood, creamy soups and light meat dishes. You can also try them with cheese. Red wines go well with beef, lamb, venison and pork, depending on the style of the wine.
A place to eat - Les Sources de Caudalie belongs to Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte and is situated inside the property area. Sublime cuisine.
SAUTERNES & BARSAC
Perfect food companion
This rare and extremely harmonious cooperation between sweetness, acidity, and alcohol makes wines Sauternes & Barsac so exciting. Thanks to the remaining sugar, these wines have fresh and intense sweetness. They offer an incredibly vast range of nuances on the nose and the palate (acacia, honey, peach and tropical fruit), big body and refinement, finesse and sophisticated style. These wines are extremely well-balanced already from "birth", and this means a very long life. 40-50 years for top wines in superb vintages.
Sauternes & Barsac wines are a perfect match for food (European, overseas and oriental) because, unlike red wines, they can cope with salt, fat and even all kind of spices. The reason for that is the remarkable sweetness of these wines. It's a free choice for everyone: Foie gras, oysters (!), chicken, lobster, shrimps, cooked/steamed fish dishes in butter/crème sauce, light meat, cheese (especially goat and sheep ones) and fruit desserts are the typical and suitable choices. But dishes spiced with carrying and chilli have no problems at all with sweet white wine because sweetness in this wine merges with spices in a very distinguished way – with even more nuances to follow.
Places to eat - Fantastic Lalique restaurant situated at Lafaurie Peyraguey. I also recommend restaurant Saprien, 14 Rue Principale, 33210 Sauternes, and neighbouring Auberge des Vignes, 23, rue Principale, 33210 Sauternes, with the latter serving more rustic meals.
To get more info about Sauternes & Barsac - please click on this link: http://www.greatbordeauxwines.com/chateau-profiles/sauternes-barsac/sauternes-barsac
You will find the Saint-Emilion app. 40 km northeast of Bordeaux and just 8 km southeast of Libourne, not that far from Dordogne-river's right bank. This district consists of nine parishes: Saint-Emilion, Saint-Christophe des Bardes, Saint-Etienne de Lisse, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Laurent des Combes, Saint-Pey d'Armens, Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens, Vignonet and a part of Libourne area. Vineyards of Saint-Emilion (within the appellation) cover 5.200 hectares, which is app. 5,5% of Bordeaux's total area of vineyards. Merlot dominates vineyards here and accounts for app. 55-60% of the planted area, Cabernet Franc (Bouchet) accounts for 15-30% and Cabernet Sauvignon for 5-15%.
Châteaux in Saint-Emilion are generally divided into the following groups concerning the difference in soil conditions and location.
"Graves" - a plateau which covers the land from the area south/south-west of Saint-Emilion to Pomerol and continues as a flat piece of land to the outskirts of Libourne. It's gravelly and sandy soil in different proportions, while the subsoil is, for the most part, a mixture of pebbles, sand and clay.
"Côtes" - slopes, which often are quite steep. The soil conditions here are not the same as everywhere in the area. Therefore they are divided into three categories; Top of the slope - clay mixed with little sand, lying on the bed of limestones. These limestones are incredibly important during the growing cyclus of the vines - they are porous and soak the water up during the winter and early Spring, so the vines have enough of it to "drink" when a really dry summer comes. Slope - a mixture of pebbles, sand and clay on the soil's surface and limestones in the underground layer. The slope's foot - mostly sand and gravel (both large stones and pebbles) together with little clay.
Saint-Emilion wines cover a lot of styles depending on soil conditions and location. Within the same type of soil and location, you will find traditionally made wines, semi-modern and modern ones.
Because of the diversity of styles, you can drink St.Emilion wines with many different dishes - for me personally, the best combination of food with St.Emilion's wines is veal, lamb, duck and goose, cooked, steamed or grilled.
Places to eat - I recommend the restaurant Les Belles Perdrix de Troplong Mondot at Troplong Mondot with a breathtaking view over St.Emilion. Sublime food. Hostellerie de Plaisance in the centre of the town provides a breathtaking view of the surroundings and excellent food, slightly more modern than LBPdTM.
Restaurant Logis de la Cadenne is owned by the de Bouard family from Chateau Angelus. Excellent food. There are several other restaurants in lower scala of prices, f.i. L'Envers du Decor, owned since 2016 by Perse family from Pavie, certainly worth a visit. On the border between St.Emilion and Pomerol, at Chateau La Dominique, there is an excellent restaurant at the terrace, La Terrace Rouge, 1 La Dominique, 33330 Saint-Émilion, with a great view of Pomerol and also neighbouring Cheval Blanc.
Pomerol fills just a few wine drops in the world's enormous ocean of wine, but these drops are delicate, rare and expensive. Pomerol, with its 750 ha of vines divided between app. 185 winegrowers is the smallest wine-producing area in Bordeaux. The "treasure cellar" here is packed with true masterpieces of wine-making, rare and expensive wines, which in outstanding vintages like 1982, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010, easily can match the world's best red wines, including the very best ones from Haut-Medoc, Graves and Saint-Emilion. Pomerol lies about 30 km east of Bordeaux, between Barbanne-river in the north, St. Emilion district in the east, the town of Libourne in the south and motorway D 910 in the west. Because of its small size, the district is often called Bordeaux's "little garden". It is just 4 km long and 3 km wide!
The very best vineyards are situated in mid-and east-Pomerol, that is to say, towards St. Emilion district. The soil's surface here consists of a deep layer of gravel mixed with clay and little sand. Further to the west, this surface changes to more sandy, so wines are harder, lighter, and less nuanced than those from mid-and east-Pomerol. The subsoil (base) in Pomerol has an extraordinary and curious composition, which is only found here in the district and therefore is not especially known. It consists of the so-called "crasse de fer" and clay. "Crasse de fer" is iron-dirt or, more precisely, a very firm and solid blend of sand + small pebbles and metal, which has a very high content of iron-oxide. It gives the wines a very distinctive and characteristic flavour, something fat and metallic, which many tasters associate with truffles. This unique subsoil appears abundantly within app. 900 m wide and circle-shaped high-plateau, near the border of St.Emilion. Among the wine-growers, this high-plateau is called "Le Plateau Argileux". 70-75% of the cultivated area in Pomerol is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Franc follows next with 20-25%, and only 5% Cabernet Sauvignon is planted here. It is in Pomerol, Merlot is at its peak.
Fine qualities of Pomerol-wines step forward together with food. Younger wines go splendidly with paté (f.i. foie gras), roasted/cooked/grilled canard and veal. Wines of some age are delightful with lamb and veal during spring/summer and game during autumn/winter. The older wines easily match cheese from cow, sheep and goat - their fruit-sweetness gives perfect response to salt in cheeses. Pomerol-wines can also go with fish, especially when the fish is Bordeaux' own "version" of eel, lamproie. Lamproie is considered an exquisite delicacy in Bordeaux, especially in Pomerol and Sauternes. It is one of the very few fish, which goes well with red wine and tastes magnificently prepared with it.
Pomerol's own village, Catusseau, has got new restaurant in March 2015, La Table de Catusseau, 86 Rue de Catusseau, 33500 Pomerol. French cuisine with a twist of New Caledonian cuisine, great class and style.
Neighbour til Pomerol and both districts provide many interesting wines with splendid quality for small money. Many properties are beautifully placed on the hills and provide an extraordinary view of the Dordogne river.