En Primeur: Bordeaux

It is a tale of two river banks. Although only separated by some thirty miles; the Medoc and the Right Bank are very different stylistically, historically and culturally.

The left bank is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, largely due to the fast draining gravel soils found close to the Garonne estuary. St Emilion and Pomerol are predominantly planted with Merlot and a small smattering of Cabernet Franc. These varieties thrive on the limestone slopes and clay plateau found around St Emilion and Pomerol. In the Medoc one encounters fairy tale Chateaux surrounded by vast vineyards with little gradient. By contrast, the Right Bank has a much more varied topography, and the architecture and scale of winemaking are rather more modest. There is certainly a more ‘Burgundian’ approach here, contrasted with the more corporate and high tech ideology of the Medoc.

Generalisations are difficult to make in Bordeaux, however, given the dominance of Cabernet on the left bank, wines tend to be more structured, cool and age-worthy, whereas the Merlot based wines from the right bank demonstrate a fleshy, approachable character, which affords earlier drinking. As with most generalisations, there are many exceptions; wines like Lafleur, Petrus, Cheval Blanc and Ausone are amongst the more cellar worthy wines produced anywhere in the world.