France is the second largest wine producing area in the world after Italy, but in terms of quality wine, it is number one.
The prestige and fame of French wine is due largely to Bordeaux. Bordeaux produces more than 700 million bottles a year out of some 10,000 properties. 80% of this wine is red and it’s always a blend. The English refer to it as Claret – a term relatively unknown in France.
The Bordeaux blend comprises the following varieties in any combination: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The blend is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon on the left bank of the Gironde (i.e. Medoc), and Merlot on the right bank (i.e. St Emilion, Côtes de Blaye & Côtes de Bourg).
Bordeaux sets the standard for reds against which all other reds are measured. The most expensive wines in the world emanate from Bordeaux. Chateau Pétrus from Pomerol leads in this respect with the first crus of St Emillion(Château Ausson, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Angelus, and Château Pavi) and the Medoc (Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margeaux and Château Haute Brion) not too far behind. Wines from these chateaux in certain years will fetch well over 2000 Euros. It is also not unusual for the value of a wine to increase more than tenfold within a few years of a good vintage.
But not all Bordeaux wines are out of reach of the average wine lover. With a wide range of appellations to choose from, there is something to suite every budget. Especially interesting in this respect are wines from Côtes de Blaye and Côtes de Bourg which are often underestimated and surprise us with a great value for money.
Ask your Villa St Simon host to take you treasure hunting through the Medoc, St Julian, St Estephe, Margaux, Paulliac, St Emillion, Fronsac, Graves, Blaye, Bourg, Pomerol, Libourne, Castillion – the list goes on!