About St. EstepheView a map of St. Estephe wineries (saint ess-TEFF)
St.-Estèphe is the northernmost of the 4 communes hugging the Dordogne river in the Northern Haut-Médoc area of Bordeaux. While the appellation has no premier crus (first growths) of its own, it's southernmost chateau, Cos d'Estournel, is a highly acclaimed second growth, geographically separated from the famed Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac by only a stream. Many believe Cos d'Estournel consistently produces wine of a first growth level.
Notable FactsWine from St-Estèphe typically matures more slowly than its southern counterparts. The soil is heavy and rich with clay, leading to wines with firm, muscular tannins and high acidity. Dark and opaque in color, the wines can be a bit austere in their youth, though most get softer as they age. Cabernet Sauvignon is the primary grape in most of the region's blends, although Merlot is important in helping to soften the wines. In volume, St-Estèphe creates the most wines of the top four Haut-Médoc communes. There are quite a few Cru Bourgeois properties, which are more approachable when young and, even better, lower in price. To get a feel for St-Estèphe, look for Cru Bourgeois like Chateau Haut-Beauséjour.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.