Your Ultimate Guide To The Bordeaux Wine Region 2023 (with map)
Bordeaux wine region in southwest France is home to the five most famous Châteaux in the world. Get in on the best tours, wineries, hotels with map.
We’re taking you into the Bordeaux wine region of France for a deep dive into the appellations, winemaking and wine-travel (with a map!). Need a food pairing? We’ve got that too!
Table Of Contents
- What Grapes Are Used To Make Bordeaux Wine?
- Bordeaux Wine Region Map
- Best Bordeaux Wineries
- Best Bordeaux Wine Tours
- Best Hotels In Bordeaux
Do you want to know the appellations and the districts of Bordeaux? We’ve got that covered.
Do you want to know about the grapes used and the winemaking process? If so, roll-up your pants cause we’re stomping all the grapes!
Are you traveling to the region and want to know where to stay, what wineries to visit, what tours to take and how to get around? Jump in our compact car cause we’re taking you on the best joy ride of your life!
Ah, Bordeaux. The mere mention of this region in southwestern France is enough to make any wine lover’s heart skip a beat.
With its picturesque vineyards, historic chateaus, and world-renowned wines, Bordeaux is a destination that should be on every oenophile’s bucket list.
But what makes this region so special? Is it the terroir, the grape varieties, or the winemaking techniques?
Or is it just the fact that the French really know how to make a good bottle of wine? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes Bordeaux such a unique and beloved wine region, and why it’s worth a visit (or several).
So grab a glass of your favorite Bordeaux and let’s dive in!
Is Cru the same as Classified Growths?
Yes, Cru literally translates to “growth” and refers to a great or superior growing site or vineyard.
The most prestigious wines in Bordeaux are classified as the premier cru, or “first growth”. This is also referred to as the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. There are five châteaux that qualify: Haut-Brion, Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Château Mouton-Rothschild (added in 1973).
Map Of Bordeaux Wineries
Best Bordeaux Wineries
Château Latour is part of the premier cru and located in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc region (left bank) about 30 mi north-west of the city of Bordeaux, France.
Documents mentioning Latour date back to 1331.
Picture yourself surrounded by vineyards that have been meticulously cared for, producing wines that have stood the test of time. But only picture it. Unfortunately, visits to the estate are offered primarily for professionals and are only available by appointment. Wah-wah.
Château Haut-Brion is situated in the charming town of Pessac, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Bordeaux, this wine estate is a true gem.
Let’s talk white Bordeaux blends (Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc). Brace yourself for a taste bud explosion because Château Haut-Brion knows how to knock it out of the vineyard! These white blends are the stuff of legends, my friends.
Château Margaux is about to blow your mind with its Bordeaux wines. These bad boys have been rocking the wine scene for centuries, and let me tell you, they’ve aged like fine wine themselves (pun totally intended).
Now, these wines aren’t just for sipping on their own like a lone ranger. Oh no, no, no! Château Margaux wines are meant to be enjoyed with food, like a perfect dance partner that complements your every move. So, get ready to whip out your fanciest dinner spread and let these wines take center stage.
Tastings and tours of Château Margaux are reserved for professionals and are by appointment only. But you can drive by the estate while you’re in Bordeaux for a drive by selfie and then buy a bottle from L’Intendant Grands Vins de Bordeaux. No one will know you weren’t there 😉
Château Lafite Rothschild
Château Lafite Rothschild is another OG member of the premier cru club. It’s right around the french corner from Cháteau Mouton Rothschild in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc region (left bank) about 30 mi north-west of the city of Bordeaux, France.
Their wines have earned their spot at the cool kids’ table, and they’re here to impress.
These Bordeaux wines are like the Olympic gymnasts of the wine world, balancing elegance with the precision of a sommelier performing a handstand. They’re so versatile that they’re great to drink young, like a wine prodigy that just won’t quit, but they also have the potential to age.
You can visit the property by appointment only.
Château Mouton Rothschild
In 1973 Château Mouton Rothschild was added to the most prestigious classification, premier cru. They joined the list of the other four original châteaux. This renowned wine estate, located in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc region about 30 mi north-west of the city of Bordeaux, France. From its breathtaking vineyards to its historic cellars, it exudes an undeniable charm.
Want to visit Mouton Rothschild? You can’t just drive up. You need to make an appointment on their website and it’s subject to availability. If you get the opportunity you’ll love the museum.
On the tour you’ll be able to see the old vineyards, the winery, cellars, and two amazing museums.
There are three types of tours offered:
Full Tour – visit the Vat Room, the Museum of Art in Wine, the Paintings for the Labels Room, the Cellars, and the Great Barrel Hall.
Art and Wine Tour – visit the Vat Room, the Museum of Art in Wine, and the Paintings for the Labels Room.
Technical Tour – visit the Vat Room, the Cellars, and the Great Barrel Hall.
Don’t forget your veggies. Roast potatoes, mushrooms, onions and green bean casserole (you just found your next holiday wine pairing).
The region is also well known for its dry white wines and sweet white wines (Sauternes).
Bordeaux Wine Region Map
The Garonne and the Dordogne rivers meet to form the Gironde estuary that flows into the Atlantic. The Gironde estuary is what divides the region into three sections: the Left Bank, the Right Bank and Entre-Deux-Mers.
Best Bordeaux Wine Tours
There are loads of wonderful wineries to visit in Bordeaux. You already know this. But how to get to them? How do you know you’re going to have a great time? Do you speak French? Will the wine educator speak English? It’s unknown.
You can absolutely rent a car and tour the region on your own. But you may not want to risk it. If this is your first (and maybe only) trip to Bordeaux we recommend booking a tour, whether it be a private or small-group tour.
These are our top picks.
- Remember what I said above? If you want to tour the Medoc and stand in front of the Châteaux Margaux and Lafite Rothchild this private tour will get you those oh so sweet insta-worthy shots. After the photo op of a lifetime, you’ll make three stops at other fantastic Bordeaux wineries. There are planned stops but it’s a private tour so you can literally do whatever you want. Remember to make time for lunch. $658 (buy a bottle of Margaux in town and make your buds back home soooo jealous).
- Bring your appetite. This 1 ½ hour intimate tasting session of Bordeaux wines and gourmet cheeses of the region will introduce you to the best cheeses of France. You’ll taste nine different spectacular cheeses in the restaurant’s 100 cheese cellar. $48
- Lunch is included in this 3 ½ hour small group walking tour. Experience the pleasures of Bordeaux alongside a knowledgeable culinary enthusiast with no more than 10 explorers. Savor a glass of organic Bordeaux wine, indulge in delectable chocolate bonbons crafted by an acclaimed female chocolatier, delight in a hazelnut delicacy from a cherished local family enterprise, plus enjoy a traditional French bistro lunch nestled in the vibrant Saint-Pierre district. Listen to stories told about the city while strolling through its charming streets. $108
- Jump right into your trip feet first by taking a full day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed village of Saint-Émilion. Taste amazing wine and enjoy sightseeing. You’ll explore Saint-Émilion on a 45-minute guided walking tour. You’ll have the opportunity to grab lunch after your guided walking tour. You’ll be sure to work up an appetite. Pro tip: eat breakfast. $170
- Over 500 Five Star reviews can’t be wrong. Visit the Medoc or Saint-Émilion in a small group wine tasting and Chateaux tour from Bordeaux. Taste four different wines and learn expert wine-tasting tips. Enjoy a French appetizer platter of local specialties including bread, cheese and cured meat. Hungry yet? $108
- Want to make your own wine? Of course you do! Make your own cuvée of Bordeaux wine in this 3 hour class. Yum! At $64 you’d be crazy not to.
- Full day tour with gourmet picnic lunch. Travel through Bordeaux’s picturesque vineyards and visit several wineries—an estate in Graves, and then onto the medieval village of Saint-Émilion. A gourmet picnic lunch in the vines complete with charcuterie, cheeses, and chateau wines is included! $186
- Have a slow morning in Bordeaux before your afternoon tour in Saint-Émilion. This afternoon tour of Saint-Émilion includes winery visits and tastings. Learn the secrets of winemaking and ‘terroir’ on a tour and tasting at a Grand Cru winery. $108
Best Hotels In The Bordeaux Wine Region
If you’re wanting to stay in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region, then the city of Bordeaux is you best option. Bordeaux is renowned for its exquisite wines (we know this), rich history, and vibrant culture. Bordeaux offers a delightful array of accommodations to suit every traveler’s taste and budget. From luxurious five-star hotels to charming boutique establishments, there is a perfect option for every discerning traveler. Even your mom.
Bordeaux boasts a captivating blend of old-world charm and modern amenities, reflected in its diverse range of hotels. Whether you seek a stylish retreat in the city center or a peaceful escape in the outskirts, Bordeaux offers a plethora of options to cater to your preferences.
Your accommodation can offer you world-class amenities, spa facilities and gourmet dining experiences.
For those seeking a more intimate and personalized experience, boutique hotels in Bordeaux provide a unique charm. These hidden gems exude character and offer an authentic taste of the city’s local ambiance. Immerse yourself in cozy atmospheres, beautifully designed rooms, and personalized service, all crafted to ensure a memorable stay.
Budget-conscious travelers need not worry, as Bordeaux also offers a range of affordable hotels and guesthouses without compromising on comfort or quality. These accommodations provide a comfortable base to explore the city, with easy access to its iconic landmarks, vibrant markets, and bustling streets.
No matter which hotel you choose, you can expect warm hospitality, amenities (some exceptional), and a convenient location to make the most of your Bordeaux experience. Most hotels offer complimentary wine tastings. Whether you’re here for a romantic getaway, a cultural exploration, or a wine-filled adventure, Bordeaux’s hotels are ready to welcome you with open arms and provide a comfortable haven during your stay in this captivating French city.
The History Of The Region
Bordeaux wine region is one of the most famous french wine regions and in the world, and for good reason. Its history dates back to Roman times, when the area was known for producing wine. However, it wasn’t until the 12th century that Bordeaux really started to make a name for itself.
At that time, the English had control of the region, and they were big fans of Bordeaux wine. They even started exporting it back to England, where it became a popular drink among the nobility.
Over the centuries, Bordeaux continued to grow in popularity and prestige. Winemakers in the region developed new techniques and methods for producing wine, and the area became known for producing some of the finest wines in the world.
Bordeaux is still a major player in the wine industry today, with thousands of wineries producing a wide variety of wines. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just enjoy a good glass of red, Bordeaux is definitely a region worth exploring.
Bordeaux’s climate is considered maritime. Compared to the Mediterranean, the west coast of France has higher humidity and rainfall with less sunshine. So the summers are cooler.
Bordeaux’s temperatures are still high enough to produce full bodied wines but also with significant acidity.
The Bordeaux wine growing area has about 287,000 acres of vineyards, 38 appellations (whoa mama), 10,000 wine-producing estates and 13,000 grape growers.
Bordeaux produces about 61 million cases of wine every year. It produces everyday table wine as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world.
Some of the most expensive wines are the area’s premier cru red wines from Médoc and Château Haut-Brion, from Graves.
The Bordeaux region produces both red, white and sweet wines.
The red wines are mostly made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carménère.
White Bordeaux is made from Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle.
Sauternes is a sub-region of Graves known for its intensely sweet, white, dessert wines.
What Grapes Are Used To Make Bordeaux Wine?
Grapes that are used to make red Bordeaux wine are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carménère.
At least two of these grapes are blended to make red Bordeaux.
Did you know… Merlot is the most widely planted grape in France. Second and third are Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, respectively.
Grapes that are used to make white Bordeaux are Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. The Sauvignon Blanc grape is the third most widely planted white grape in France, behind Chardonnay and Ugni Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon are blended to make both dry and sweet white Bordeaux wines.
Did you know… Sémillon is the fifth most planted grape in France.
In an attempt to lessen the effects of climate change on the wine industry in Bordeaux, in 2021 six new grape varieties were approved for limited use. However, the new grapes combined cannot exceed 10% of the blend. These grapes are (red): Arinarnoa, Castes, Marselen and Touriga Nacional; (white) Albariño and Lilorila.
What does Bordeaux wine taste like?
Bordeaux is primarily known for dry red wines. Red wines from Bordeaux have fruity and earthy notes and are medium to full bodied with aromas of plum and pencil lead. They are highly tannic (dry mouth feel).
Did you know… Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines originated in Bordeaux.
Want To Bring Your Bordeaux Wine Home With You?
That was rhetorical. Yes. Yes, you do.
We recommend the VinGardeValise 12 bottle wine suitcase. There are a couple ways you can use this suitcase. One is, when you come home you only pack half the suitcase with wine and the other side clothes; or, what we do is bring a duffle bag to carry our clothes home. You can still check a duffle bag home btw, you don’t have to schlep it around for all four connections.
Pro tip: you can also use the duffle bag to drop off your clothes to be laundered if you’re doing an extended trip. Multiple uses for one duffle bag.
The Left Bank Bordeaux
There are two areas of the Left Bank and those are Médoc to the north and Graves to the south. The classic sweet white wines come from Sauternes on the Left Bank. The best wines are coming out of the Médoc.
Produces all red wine. Margaux, Pauillac, St. Estèphe and St. Julien are the most esteemed villages in Bordeaux and arguably the world.
Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Margaux, Moulis-en-Médoc, Pauillac, St. Estèphe, St. Julien
Graves produces a combination of dry white, sweet white, and red.
Graves, Graves Supérieures, Pessac-Léognan, Barsac, Céron, Sauternes
The Right Bank Bordeaux
This region is known as Libournais. The main town on the Right Bank is Libourne. The most coveted wines from this area of the Bordeaux wine region are from the Pomerol and St.-Émilion AOCs.
Long lived, top quality wines are coming from St.-Émilion.
Produces all red wine.
Canon-Fronsac, Fronsac, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Lussac-St.-Émilion, Montagne-St.-Émilion, Pomerol, Puisseguin-St.-Émilion, St.-Émilion, St.-Émilion Grand Cru, St.-Georges-St.-Émilion
Blaye, Bourg and Côtes
Blaye, Bourg and Côtes produces dry white, sweet white and red.
Côtes de Bordeaux, Blaye, Côtes de Blaye, Bourg/Côtes de Bourg
Entre-Deux-Mers means between the two rivers, Garonne and the Dordogne. Entre-Deux-Mers primarily focuses on white wines but the vineyards do also contain a significant planting of red grape. (primarily Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon)
Entre-Deux-Mers, Cadillac, Côte de Bordeaux-St.-Macaire, Ste.-Croix-du-Mont
Bordeaux Food Pairing Tips
The most perfect food pairing with your Bordeaux wine is obviously steak frites. The big tannins in the Bordeaux wine that can sometimes be overwhelmingly drying are almost sweet when paired with the steak and the duck fat fries.
Any rich meaty pairing is a win with Bordeaux. Filet mignon, brisket, buffalo burgers, pâté, pot roast, venison and duck.
Looking for a cheese pairing? Your everyday grocery store cheese are manchego, swiss cheese (throw that on your buffalo burger), white cheddar, provolone, pepper jack and comté.
Check ‘em out!
Bordeaux Wine Region FAQ
What is the region of Bordeaux wine?
Bordeaux wine region in southwest France is home to the five most famous Châteaux in the world. Get in on the best tours, wineries, hotels with map.
What are the 4 Bordeaux wines?
The grapes most used in red Bordeaux wine are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec. Merlot is the most widely planted grape in France. Second and third are Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, respectively.
What is Bordeaux region famous for?
Bordeaux is most well known for its wine. The Bordeaux wine region is the undisputed wine capital of the world and Bordeaux wines are often amongst the most expensive in the world.
Where is the best wine area in Bordeaux?
The Médoc, north of Bordeaux, produces wine from the most esteemed villages in Bordeaux and arguably the world. Those are Margaux, Pauillac, St. Estèphe and St. Julien.
Why is Bordeaux wine so special?
One of the reasons Bordeaux is so special and considered the most famous wine region in the world is because of to potential to age well. All of the red wines of Bordeaux are aged in barrels before bottling, but also are well in bottles because of the tannic Cabernet Sauvignon grape.