Weekly wine defined: Bordeaux

Brynn writes:

After tasting some delicious Bordeaux blends this weekend in Woodinville wine country, I decided it’s time to define this term.

Bordeaux is not only a type of wine, it’s first and foremost a region in France. But what people may not know is, Bordeaux has a left and a right bank and the wines that come from each side are made up of different dominant wine varietals.

Typically there are five grapes that go into Bordeaux blends, but it’s also not unusual to only see three of the five varietals in a wine. They include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot.

Cabernet sauvignon and merlot are typically the more dominant role in Bordeaux blends while the remaining three varietals play a lesser role — but don’t discount their impact on a wine, they are responsible for adding the color, structure and body depending on how large of a percentage is used.

So how do you know if a wine is a right bank Bordeaux or a left bank Bordeaux? (The “bank” refers to the side of the Gironde River where the region sits.)

Here’s an easy tip: Wines that have cabernet sauvignon as the dominant varietal are from the Left Bank while those with merlot as the dominant grape are Right Bank wines.