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Bordeaux Wines

Bordeaux Wines: Perfectly Blended, Perfectly Paired with Luxury Getaways

Right bank, left bank, between two tides. More than just picturesque, pastoral scenery changes as you navigate these directionally christened regions in Bordeaux’s famed wine country. The soil and overall terroir shift as well, making each section of the region distinctly suited to specific varietals and blends. The UNESCO-listed swath of land is predominantly divided by the Garonne River, hence the right and left bank designations. The Dordogne flows east the Garonne, making that portion of agricultural wonderland quite literally Entre-Deux-Mers, between two tides.

Whether you’re an aficionado who decants with flair or simply a fan of history and raising a great glass of wine with friends, a day spent exploring Bordeaux’s vineyards and storied wineries will satisfy your palate for this local art form. As Crystal voyages visiting Bordeaux spend two nights and three days in the charming French port city, you’ll have plenty of time to sip your way through the bank that best suits your tastes. Here’s our easy guide to navigating the largest wine appellation in France.

The traditional Bordeaux Blend comprises primarily Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Depending on the specific part of the region a producer resides, this may be accented with Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. The ratios vary, each vintage subject to the discerning expertise of the winemaker and his or her assessment of the year’s climate, terroir and other factors. A Bordeaux Blend Blanc (white grape varietals) boasts Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and the rare Muscadelle. The flavor profiles of each of these blends vary greatly, offering oenophiles a comprehensive color wheel of depth, sweetness, tannins, acidity and body.

On the Right Bank, otherwise known as Libournais, (around the city of Libourne) soil rich in red clay nourishes deep and plummy grapes, predominantly Merlot, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Look for approachable, easy-drinking, structured vintages from the likes of St-Emilion and Pomerol – two of the most famous producers in the region. Smooth and refined on the palate with notes of blackberry, cherry and violet, these wines are known to be wonderful introductions into the world of Bordeaux wine.

On the left bank, you’ll find Médoc and Graves, which, conversely, grow mostly Cabernet Sauvignon that is blended with smaller ratios of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, as well as Malbec and Petit Verdot. The wineries here include the renowned Paulliac, St-Julien, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan, while the wines tend to be bolder, more complex profiles and notes of roast coffee, black currant and licorice. These wines get better with age and pair beautifully with rich cuisines like red meat.

Entre-Deux-Mers, life is a bit sweeter, or at least the wines are. Sauternes is king here, thanks to morning fog in the region that produces a special type of fungus, causing the grapes to shrivel and sweeten intensely with notes of marmalade, honey and apricot. Also add to your tasting list the dryer, more balanced Bordeaux Blanc. This is blended of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and results in a wonderfully semi-dry, light-bodied wine that hints of grapefruit, gooseberry and lemon curd.

Bordeaux is a highlight of Crystal Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises in 2021, 2022 and beyond, with itineraries spending three days in the city. Crystal’s Destination Discoveries explore the most renowned Bordeaux wines and estates, allowing you to get acquainted with vintages that perfectly suit your palate. Plan to fully immerse yourself in all facets of Bordeaux during your Crystal voyage.

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