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Geography: Located off the Atlantic Ocean in southwest France, Bordeaux is most often separated into two parts –the right bank and the left bank. On the left bank, Cabernet Sauvignon rules, and the Médoc region hugs the west side of the Gironde river. Within the Médoc are the four top communes of (from north to south) St.-Estèphe, Paulliac, St.-Julien and Margaux. These communes make some pretty sought-after red wines from chateaux with big names. Being that the main grape is Cabernet Sauvignon, the wines are fairly tannic and muscular. Below the Médoc, following the river as it turns, lies the Graves region. Named as such for its gravelly soils, Graves is home to some top white wine regions like Pessac-Léognan (for dry whites) and the sweet wine regions of Sauternes and Barsac.
The right bank of Bordeaux is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc shine best. Merlot is typically used more in the blends, which means the wines of the right bank are often slightly softer and rounder than the left bank Cabernet-based wines. The heart of the right bank is the city of St.-Émilion and the wine region that surrounds it. Next door is Pomerol, a small but intense red wine producer. Other areas include Côtes du Bourg & Côtes du Blaye, Fronsac & Canon-Fronsac, and Côtes de Castillon. Bordeaux has other regions that are making wine – some of it great value!