Appellations - Orientation in the terrain


Whether you are a beginner or an advanced wine lover, a map of Bordeaux's wine appellations is always useful. Below I offer the one from WSG. It is available in full resolution here.

I comment briefly on the appellations below. I warn in advance that this is a completely subjective view. :)




No matter which wise book you look at on Bordeaux wine, it says right at the beginning that everything is divided into left bank and right bank. On the left, the wines are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and on the right by Merlot. In principle, this is true, but for me the appellations, or sub-regions, are more important, which have all sorts of names and are defined mainly by soil conditions.

But to keep things in order, let's take it one step at a time:

on the left bank (of the Gironde) we find a region called Médoc and below it, to the south, Graves. The latter is also on the left bank, but already on the Garonne, a tributary of the Gironde.

On the right bank of the Gironde, or its other tributary the Dordogne, is the Libournais (named after the largest town in the region, Libourne), which includes virtually all the right bank appellations.

That leaves the area between the Garonne and the Dordogne, which is called Entre-Deux-Mers.




Is probably the most well-known area. Firstly, it's because of the great wines (Grands Crus Classés en 1855), but also because of the many wineries, many of which are truly top-notch. In the Médoc we find the following appellations:



Saint Estéphe


Saint Julien




It would be endless to discuss each of them. Karin Bernaleau of Chateau Mongravey gave us a clear and concise opinion: 'Saint Julien has the best soil, while Moulis and Listrac are the poor sisters from Médoc'. I'm sure she's right, but there's always an exception (Branas Grand Poujeaux from Moulis in particular for me).

For me, the wines from Saint-Julien are beautiful, velvety smooth, Saint-Estephe has them a bit harder but excellent, Pauillac are robust, wonderful wines, Margaux are full-bodied, elegant wines.

I haven't had an above average wine from Medoc in a long time. That changed when I tasted Clos Manou or Le Reysse. There are plenty of wineries in the Haut-Médoc where you'll find a range of quality - from amazing wines to mediocre to flops.




has "under its belt" a very important appellation of excellent red, but also dry white wines


which are definitely worth tasting. And by that I don't mean bottles from "branded" big Chateaux for hundreds of Euros. In the small wineries here you will find treasures literally for a few Euros.

And then not so great (although there are exceptions)


and then three appellations that are the only ones in Bordeaux known for producing sweet white wines. The most famous of these is


and the other two are

Barsac and Cérons.




Two stars shine in this region:

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. But especially around Saint-Emilion you will find many smaller wineries that have excellent wines at affordable prices. Just search.

Of course, that doesn't mean that other appellations aren't worth it:

Lalande de Pomerol is an appellation separated from Pomerol by the little river La Barbanne. Here, too, you will find gems that are not so well known commercially but will delight the wine lover's senses. And the same goes for the other appellations here:

Montagne, St.-Georges, Lussac and Puisseguin and, to the very east, Castillon and Francs.

I was pleasantly surprised by the wines I tasted from them and some even shocked me with their price/performance ratio. Personally, I'm looking forward to driving around and visiting those wineries.

At the other end of Libourne, across the Isle River, we find two small in size but unique in quality wine appellations, Fronsac and Canon Fronsac. If you haven't had the pleasure, I definitely recommend them. One thing I would point out though: it's not good to drink them young. It's worth waiting. Jean-Pierre Champseix of Château Vieux Chevrol (Lalande de Pomerol) aptly says that Fronsac wines have a "marketing handicap". Local winemakers have the misfortune of having a harder time selling their wine because none of their customers want to wait 10 years for their wine to peak.

And that leaves the last two appellations: Blaye and Bourg. Unfortunately, I can't say anything about them, because I haven't been there yet and I haven't drunk wines from there. Hopefully it won't be long before I have the opportunity.




My knowledge of this area is poor, as I have only been there once, and only at Château Reaut (their wine is certainly worth a look).

However, Entre-Deux-Mers means a lot to me in the context of another winery. That winery is called Château Marjosse. Its owner, Pierre Lurton, is a personality for me just because of how excellent a wine he managed to make in the 2018 vintage. And most importantly, at what a nice price he sells it. :)