First famous commune on Route des Chateaux when you come from Bordeaux town. Wines here are gracious, refined and sophisticated, very aromatic and silky.
Margaux is housing no less than 21 classified chateaux, more than Pauillac, St. Julien and St. Estephe. Chateau Margaux is the only 1.Growth in this commune. There are 1413 ha of vines and Margaux includes villages of Arsac, Cantenac, Labarde, Margaux and Soussans in the appelation. Cabernet Sauvignon is the mostly used grape variety here, followed by Merlot and Petit Verdot. Soil here is mostly fine gravel with little clay underneath.
Margaux wines are generally lighter than ones from f.i. Pauillac and St.Estephe and will therefore go well with veal, lamb, chicken and birds.
Places to eat - Le Savoie, 1 place Temoille 33460 Margaux, on the left side of the road just when you leave the village of Margaux, close to City Hall. Then Brasserie du Lac, 5 route de l'ile Vincent, Margaux, bistro of Relais de Margaux and intimate La Gare Gourmande, 3, Routes des Chateaux, Labarde.
Wines from Saint-Julien are generally lighter than ones from Saint Estephe and Pauillac, but tend to have more body than ones from Margaux. They can be elegant, gracious and also powerful and tannic.
This commune is the smallest one of all four mentioned here, only 900 ha vineyards. It's home for 11 classified Growths, none of them 1. Growths, but there are five 2. Growths. Among these 3 Leovilles - Leoville Las Cases, Leoville Barton and Leoville Poyferre. Soil here is gravel on the surface and clay, sometimes blended with fine gravel in the subsoil. Also here Cabernet Sauvignon rules with the great help of Merlot and Petit Verdot.
Saint Julien wines suit very well dishes made from lamb, veal, beef and venison.
Place to eat - Le Saint Julien, 11 rue du Saint Julien, 33250 Saint-Julien-Beychevelle. I haven't eaten there yet, but it's been recommended to me by many.
Like in Saint Estephe, wines are very concentrated, powerful and with strong backbone. Cabernet Savignon is the king here and gives wines scent of tobacco/tobacco leaves, mint, bacon, cigar box and graphite.
Very famous commune, mainly because it's home of three 1.Crus, Lafite, Lator and Mouton Rothschild, out of Bordeaux' 5 1.Growths. Soil here has the deepest layer of gravel in whole Bordeaux - up to app. 40 meters deep! There are 1200 ha of planted vines.
Wines from Pauillac need strong dishes, so anything made from beef, venison and pork, suits wines very well.
Places to eat - Cafe Lavinal in the Bages village, just close to Chateau Lynch Bages. Reasonable prices, tasty food and impressive wine list. If you wish more sophisticated cousine and luxurious surroundings, then check out Cordeillan Bages (situated close to vineyard of Lynch Bages), which is both hotel and restaurant. High class French cuisine.
Home of deeply coloured wines, tannic, strong and powerful. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot rules here and Petit Verdot provides a great addition of backbone and depth to wines when it's ripe. The best estates are situated close to 7 km long banks of Gironde river, which secure great micro-climate.
The best estates are situated close to 7 km long banks of Gironde river, which secure great micro-climate. Saint Estephe covers 1370 ha of vineyards and soil here is mostly gravel in different sizes on the surface with clay and limestones as subsoil.There are 5 classified Growths (none 1.Growth). Cos d'Estournel, Montrose, Calon Segur, Lafon Rochet and Cos Labory, and whole 37 Cru Bourgeois (largest number of CB place in one commune everywhere in Bordeaux). Among the latter, Capbern, Haut Marbuzet, Meyney and Phelan Segur are the great value for money.
St.Estephe wines go very well with dishes made from especially lamb, beef, venison and pork.
Place to eat - I recommend Le Peyrat, 19 Littoral, 33180 Saint-Estephe, overlooking Gironde river, close to the vineyard of Montrose. Small restaurant, mostly frequented by local people, lorry drivers and workers from neighboring chateaux. Very few tourists know this place. Tasty food, cheap and very kind hosts. When I'm in Bordeaux and visit St.Estephe, I always go there with my friends to have a lunch. Have eaten at Le Peyrat 8 times - not a single one disappointment!
Produces both white and red wines. White wines are mostly made from blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, they only undergo alcoholic fermentation to preserve their freshness and aromas. Scents of acacia flower, lemon/lemon grass, and green apple are often to be found in these wines. The best wines can keep for long time - 15-20 years or longer. Red wines cover many different styles, from elegant and refined to strong and powerful.
White wines are perfect to drink with smoked and grilled salmon, various seafood, creamy soups and light meat dishes. You can also try them with cheese. Red wines go well with beef, lamb, venison and pork, depending of course of the style of the wine.
Place to eat - Les Sources de Caudalie belonging to Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte and situated inside the area of the property. Sublime cuisine.
SAUTERNES & BARSAC
Perfect food companion
It's this rare and extremely harmonious cooperation between sweetness, acidity and alcohol, which makes wines Sauternes & Barsac so exciting. Thanks to remaining sugar, these wines have fresh and intense sweetness. They offer an incredibly vast range of nuances on the nose and on the palate (acacia, honey, peach and tropical fruit), big body and refinement, finesse and sophisticated style. These wines are extremely well-balanced already from "birth" and this means a very long life. 40-50 years for top-wines in superb vintages.
Sauternes & Barsac wines are perfect match for food (European, overseas and oriental), because unlike red wines, they can cope with salt, fat and even all kind of spices. The reason for that is the remarkable sweetness of these wines. It's free choice for everyone: Foie gras, oysters (!), chicken, lobster, shrimps, cooked/steamed fish dishes in butter/crème sauce, light meat, cheese (especially goat and sheep ones) and fruit desserts are the typical and suitable choices. But dishes spiced with carry and chilli have no problems at all with sweet white wine, because sweetness in this wine merge with spices in very distinguished way – with even more nuances to follow.
Places to eat - I recommend restaurant Saprien, 14 Rue Principale, 33210 Sauternes, and neighboring Auberge des Vignes, 23, rue Principale, 33210 Sauternes, with latter serving more rustic meals.
To get more info about Sauternes & Barsac - please click on this link: http://www.greatbordeauxwines.com/chateau-profiles/sauternes-barsac/sauternes-barsac
You will find Saint-Emilion app. 40 km north east of Bordeaux and just 8 km south east of Libourne, not that far from Dordogne-river's right bank. This district consists of nine parishes: Saint-Emilion, Saint-Christophe des Bardes, Saint-Etienne de Lisse, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Laurent des Combes, Saint-Pey d'Armens, Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens, Vignonet and a part of Libourne area. Vineyards of Saint-Emilion (within the appelation) cover the area of 5.200 hectares, which is app. 5,5% of Bordeaux' total area of vineyards. Merlot dominates vineyards here and accounts for app. 55-60% of the planted area, Cabernet Franc (Bouchet) accounts for 15-30% and Cabernet Sauvignon for 5-15%.
Châteaux in Saint-Emilion are generally divided in following groups concerning the difference in soil conditions and location.
"Graves" - a plateau, which covers the land from the area south/south west of Saint-Emilion to Pomerol, and continues as a flat piece of land to the outskirts of Libourne. It's gravelly and sandy soil in different proportions, while the subsoil is for the most part a mixture of peebles, sand and clay.
"Côtes" - slopes, which often are quite steep. The conditions of soil here are not the same everywhere in the area, therefore they are divided in three categories; Top of the slope - clay mixed with little sand, lying on the bed of limestones. These limestones are incredibly important during the growing cyclus of the vines - they are porous and soak the water up during the winter and early Spring, so the vines have enough of it to "drink", when a really dry summer comes. Slope - a mixture of peebles, sand and clay on the soil's surface and limestones in the underground layer. Foot of the slope - mostly sand and gravel (both large stones and peebles) together with little clay.
Saint-Emilion wines cover a lot of styles depending of soil conditions and location, but within same type of soil and same location, you will find traditionally made wines, semi-modern and modern ones.
Because of diversity of styles, you can drink St.Emilion wines with a lot of different dishes - for me personally the best combination of food with St.Emilion's wines is veal, lamb, duck and goose, cooked, steamed or grilled.
Places to eat - I recommend restaurant Les Belles Perdrix de Troplong Mondot at Troplong Mondot with breathtaking view over St.Emilion. Sublime food. Hostellerie de Plaisance in the center of the town provides as breathtaking view over surroundings and excellent food as well, slightly more modern then LBPdTM. I going to check restaurant Logis de Cadenne in September 2015, it's owned by de Bouard family from Chateau Angelus. There are several other restaurants in lower scala of prices (f.i. L'Envers du Decor) worth a visit, so please do research by yourself. On the border between St.Emilion and Pomerol, at Chateau La Dominique, there is an excellent restaurant at the terrace, La Terrace Rouge, 1 La Dominique, 33330 Saint-Émilion, with great view to Pomerol and also to neighboring Cheval Blanc.
Pomerol fills just a few wine-drops in world's enormous ocean of wine, but these drops are delicate, rare and expensive. Pomerol with its 750 ha of vines divided between app. 185 wine-growers, is the smallest wine-producing area in Bordeaux. The "treasure cellar" here is packed with true masterpieces of wine-making, rare and expensive wines, which in outstanding vintages like 1982, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010, easily can match world's best red wines including the very best ones from Haut-Medoc, Graves and Saint-Emilion. Pomerol lies about 30 km east of Bordeaux, between Barbanne-river in north, St.Emilion-district in east, the town of Libourne in south and motorway D 910 in west. Because of its small size, the district is often called Bordeaux' "little garden". It is just 4 km long and 3 km wide!
The very best vineyards are situated in mid- and east-Pomerol, that is to say towards St.Emilion-district. The soil's surface here consists of a deep layer of gravel mixed with clay and little sand. Further to the west, this surface changes to more sandy, so wines are harder, lighter and less nuanced, than the ones from mid- and east-Pomerol. The subsoil (base) in Pomerol has a very special and curious composition, which is only to be found here in the district and therefore is not especially known. It consists of the so-called "crasse de fer" and clay. "Crasse de fer" is iron-dirt or more precisely a kind of very firm and solid blend of earth (sand + small pebbles) and metal, which has a very high content of iron-oxide. It gives the wines a very distinctive and characteristic flavour, something fat and metallic, which many tasters associate with truffles. This unique subsoil appears abudantly within app. 900 m wide and circle-shaped high-plateau, near the border of St.Emilion. Among the wine-growers, this high-plateau is called "Le Plateau Argileux". 70-75% of the cultivated area in Pomerol is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Franc follows next with 20-25% and only 5% Cabernet Sauvignon is planted here. It is in Pomerol, Merlot is at its peak.
Fine qualities of Pomerol-wines step forward together with food. Younger wines go splendidly with paté (f.i. foie gras), roasted/cooked/grilled canard and veal. Wines with some age are delightful with lamb and veal during spring/summer and game during autumn/winter. The older wines easily match cheese from cow, sheep and goat - their fruit-sweetness gives perfect response to salt in cheeses. Pomerol-wines can also go with fish, especially when the fish is Bordeaux' own "version" of eel, lamproie. Lamproie is considered as an exquisite delicacy in Bordeaux, especially in Pomerol and Sauternes, and is one of the very few fish, which goes well with red wine and tastes magnificently prepared with it.
Pomerol's own village, Catusseau, has got new restaurant in March 2015, La Table de Catusseau, 86 Rue de Catusseau, 33500 Pomerol. French cuisine with class and style. This restaurant is the successor of Le Bistrot et la Table des Vignerons, which had a fire accident in late 2014 and was quite damaged.
Neighbor til Pomerol and both districts provide many interesting wines with splendid quality for small money. Many properties are beautifully placed on the hills and provide an extraordinary view down to Dordogne river.