Bordeaux Wine Tasting Notes

Bordeaux wine comes from the region in the southwest of France of the same name. It is one of the most famous wine producing regions in the world. The region is often split into two main parts, the left bank and the right band, on either side of the Gironde river that runs through it. The left bank is known for its wines made with a large percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend while the right bank tends to have larger percentages of Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc. There are several sub-regions in each. Only 5 primary grapes are allowed to be used in Bordeaux wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Very small amounts of Carmenere can be used as well.

The region also produces white wines from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle both in dry and sweet styles. The sweet white wines come from the regions of Sauternes and Barsac.

For more introductory info about various wine regions including Bordeaux, see our Wine Regions page!

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The Poor Man's Guide to Fine Wine

December 20, 2007
Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac 1996
My good friend Peter was in town and we decided to open this with a fireplace string-turned leg of lamb that I had made. It is a famous estate in Pauillac, one of the most famous villages in the left bank. This particular producer of Bordeaux wine was one of the wines that first turned me on to fine wine many years ago. At that time, the 1985 vintage, which I opened as a celebration when I was just getting into wine, was a revelation. It revealed more complexity, depth and personality than any wine I had had to that time. So for that reason, although I don't drink much Bordeaux wine these days as my interests have turned elsewhere such as Burgundy, Lynch-Bages is still dear to heart.

This particular bottle was also very dear to my heart for another reason. Another good friend of mine back in my Bay Area days, a mutual friend of Peter's, gave me two bottles of this wine that he had bought on release to hold on to for him. He was moving away and didn't have anywhere to store the bottles so I kept them in my cellar and promised he could have them back any time he wished. Over the next several years we lost touch but I often thought about my old friend. A year ago I decided to look him up and an internet search came up with him, however not in the way I had hoped. It turns out he had died a couple years ago. He committed suicide. You can imagine my sadness. I contacted our mutual friend Peter, now living in Champagne, and promised that I'd save the wine to share together. Peter finally visited last month. I could think of no better way to honor our fair-fallen-friend than to enjoy this bottle of his favorite Bordeaux wine together while reminiscing about him. It was a sad but also healing experience and I think our friend would have wanted it this way. Sorry for the long story and the sad story but I felt it should be shared.

After all that, what can be said about the wine? Anything would seem superfluous when the wine had such meaning for us. It served its purpose, warming our hearts and healing our sorrow for our friend. It is a beautiful wine, quite forward for its young age, showing the classic lead pencil and cassis aromas and flavors that I associate with Lynch-Bages. Definitely one of the better vintages of this wine in the last couple decades, I cannot say anything bad about it. It should continue to evolve beautifully for many more years.

Check back as we will post more Bordeaux wine tasting notes periodically as we are fortunate enough to taste them!

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