Bordeaux: Articles on France's Bordeaux Wine Region

Chateau Latour – A Profile of the Remarkably Consistent Bordeaux First Growth

Perhaps the most consistent of the Bordeaux First Growths has been Chateau Latour. While the other four Chateaus have had periods of underperformance, Chateau Latour has been remarkably consistent over the years in making some of the best wine to be found.

Chateau Latour can trace its history back to 1331 when a tower, called Tor à St-Lambert, was built on the site. This tower was used for defense in a battle between the Plantagenets and the French during the Hundred Years Wars. Sometime around 1378, the land, now referred to as “the tower” or Le Tour, was a seigneurie, a sharecropping system of land ownership. In 1453, when the English were finally defeated, the owner of the estate, Sieur de Larsan fled. The property returned to the control of the French and the tower on the site was destroyed. Nothing from it, other than the name, exists today. Sometime in the early 17th century, the the building on the label of the bottle called a dovecot was built on the site of the original tower.

Bordeaux First Growths: Chateau Lafite, First Amongst First Growths

Of all Bordeaux first growths, perhaps none is as well known, both inside and outside of the wine world, as Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  Its name transcends wine, standing as a symbol of luxury.  How did it get this lofty reputation?  And, more importantly is, it deserved?  The answer to the second question is a definite yes.  This article will explore the first question in more detail.

The History:
Records of this estate stretch as far back as 1234 when Gombaud de Lafite, abbot of the Vertheuil Monastery north of Pauillac, owned the property.  The name Lafite comes from "la hite", a Gascon expression meaning "small hill."  Records from the 14th century indicate that it was not a vineyard, but what the French call a seigneurie.   This is an estate run by a lord and others who are effectively sharecroppers.  The manor house was constructed in the 1500s and still standing today.

Read part one of the First Growths Series.

The Ségur family bought the property in the 1600s.  Jacques de Ségur planted the vineyard in 1680 although grapes were no doubt grown before that.  By the early 1700s, thanks to Nicolas-Alexandre, Marquis de Ségur, Chateau Lafite wines were very popular with those wealthy enough to afford them, first in English Society (where it was a favorite of Prime Minster Robert Walpole) and later in French society. 

Bordeaux First Growths: A True Trophy Wine For Wine Collectors

There is probably no more prestigious wine region in the world than Bordeaux.  The wines of Bordeaux have been considered among France’s best for hundreds of years.

Best Bordeaux Red Wine (For the Money)

IntoWine.com asked a panel of wine experts for their recommendation for the best Bordeaux Red (for the money):

As Bordeaux classified growths have all hit stratospheric price levels in recent vintages, this becomes more and more of an impossible quest for those of us who still follow the Bordeaux scene—albeit with a lot less of our own money than we used to. The average price of the nearly 10 dozen Bordeaux poured at this year’s Union des Grands Cru Bordeaux event was north of $75—more than most Americans would ever pay for a bottle of wine. I’ve tasted through a great many of the highly touted 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux, and can only really recommend a handful of very relative bargains.

The best price-to-quality performer among the classed growths in 2010 is second growth Château Gruaud Larose, whose delicious offering I rated 94.5 points. Its average U.S. price currently is “only” $97. My very top value pick from the vintage, and one that I grabbed a case of, is Graves-based Château de Chantegrive ($23). Other solid choices for QPR in 2010 are Pomerol’s Château La Pointe ($55); St. Émilion’s Château Grand Mayne ($53) and Château Berliquet ($43). - Richard Jennings, IntoWine.com Featured Contributor and the Founder RJonWine.com

The White Wines of Bordeaux

My recent article, Bordeaux Wine Region in France: World's Most Famous Fine Wine Region, offered a general overview on the wines of Bordeaux.  One group of wines in this region that doesn’t get as much coverage is the dry white wines.  There are quite a bit of dry white Bordeaux wines made.  Unfortunately, most of it is of less than stellar quality.  There are some, however, that are the best wines in the world, capable of ageing for decades.

Bordeaux Left Bank Vintage Chart

Update: IntoWine has partnered with the California Wine Club to offer you great deals on 

Bordeaux Blanc: The "Other" Bordeaux is a Great White Wine for Now and Later

Sancerre?  Yawn.  Chardonnay?  Ho-hum.  Albarino?  So 2007.  Looking for a new summer white to pair with fish, grilled veggies, and salads?  Something fresh, different?  Something crisp enough to sip in the sun, solid enough to drink with dinner, and complex enough to enjoy on its own?  Look no farther than Bordeaux.

Left-Bank Bordeaux Wines: Saint-Julien AC

Located in the middle of the Haut-Médoc district of the Left Bank in Bordeaux, Saint-Julien is the smallest of the fantastic four appellations which include Saint-Estèphe and Paulliac to the north as well as Margaux to the south.  So what sets Saint-Julien apart from the rest of the Haut-Médoc ACs? 

"Bordeaux" Author Stephen Brook Discusses Wine's Most Envied Region

Bordeaux by Stephen BrookBordeaux. The word alone conjures up thoughts of the finest wines the world over and the passionate oenophiles who clamor to get their hands on them. London author Stephen Brook, in his new book The Complete Bordeaux: The Wines, The Chateaux, The People, has produced what may be the definitive work on the wines of Bordeaux. In it Brook assesses over 1000 Bordeaux wine properties with detailed information on the grapes, wines, and production of each property. IntoWine caught up with Stephen recently to chat about the book and gather his thoughts on all things Bordeaux.

Why this book now?

Existing books on Bordeaux, such as Robert Parker’s or Clive Coates’s, were focused on tasting notes of individual wines, and paid little attention to lesser known areas of Bordeaux which offer good value to consumers. My book was intended to rectify that by including all regions of Bordeaux, as its title suggests. Many winelovers who might have bought Bordeaux routinely in the past may have become disillusioned by the soaring prices of the top growths, and it was part of my intention to discuss the vast number of excellent wines that remain eminently affordable.

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