Along with Burgundy, Bordeaux produces France’s greatest red wines — wines capable of living for decades and delivering extraordinary experiences through the magic of bottle age. For generations its market has been dominated by the place de Bordeaux, a group of brokers who control worldwide distribution. Their domination, combined with the rise of wealth in Asia, has pushed prices for the region’s most famous wines to a level far out of proportion to their value as a beverage. But Bordeaux is a vast region — about ten times the size of Burgundy — and there is a lot of excellent wine there whose price is not out of bounds.
Bordeaux’s wine is left bank or right bank, a reference to the Gironde estuary and its confluent rivers, the Dordogne and the Garonne. The left bank holds the most very famous names, and its reds are mostly dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (in blend with one or more other grapes). The less ocean-influenced right bank has wines dominated by Merlot. The scale of the winemaking enterprises tends to be larger on the left bank; there are more family-scale growers on the right bank like those we deal with in other regions of France. But we import wines from both banks — on the left we have wines from Graves and from St. Estephe; on the right we have wines from St. Emilion, its satellite Montagne-St. Emilion, and from Pomerol and Lalande de Pomerol. We import mostly red wine from Bordeaux, but there are also excellent whites from Graves based on Sauvignon blanc, and dessert wine from Sauternes.