The Bordeaux Varietals Defined

Blog Post

A true Bordeaux wine is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of southwest France, which is the largest wine producing area in France. These Bordeaux varietals have since taken hold in other regions of the world, including North and South America, where they continue their rich winemaking history.

What are the Bordeaux Varietals?

The six Bordeaux Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and occasionally Carménère. Bordeaux blends are made up of differing combinations of these grapes, all of which bring unique characteristics to their wines. Descriptions of each wine are shown below.

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon makes up the largest percentage of Left Bank Bordeaux blends. A complex, and strong wine with notes of dark fruit, cherry, tobacco; the Cabernet Sauvignon is renown for being both commercially and critically successful world-wide. Famous Cabernet Sauvignon focused wines come from the Médoc appellations of Pauillac, Margaux, and St.-Estèphe. And thanks to the bold, rich flavors of the grape, the Cabernet Sauvignon is suited for a blend and as a stand alone wine.

If you’re looking to try this wine for yourself, make sure to visit our Cabernet Sauvignon wine page.

2. Merlot

In Bordeaux, France, Merlot is the most prominently grown grape on the right bank. More high end Merlot is produced there than anywhere in the world. However, it’s also found a home in our local California wine country, Washington, Italy, and Australia.

At Ridge, we believe in the rich possibility of Merlot, and invested in eight parcels of Merlot vineyards. To try this unique variety for yourself, check out our Merlot wine.

3. Cabernet Franc

This wine has higher acidity and less tannins than others on this list. Most notably, the Cabernet Franc is one of the parent grapes of around ten other production grapes. A few famous examples of the varieties it gave rise to include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère.

If you’re looking to purchase this varietal, please note that our Cabernet Franc is only available to Trio club members. For more information, please visit our page on Trio Membership.

A selection of Bordeaux style varietals from Ridge Vineyards.

4. Petit Verdot

This unpredictable, tannic varietal is used to add beautiful coloring in Bordeaux blends. You’re unlikely, however, to see it as a stand alone wine due to the often overpowering nature of the tannins.

To date, Ridge has only released one 100% Petit Verdot wine, which you can find more about on our 2011 Torre Petit Verdot wine page. However, this fruit most notably found its foothold in our Monte Bello vintages.

5. Malbec

This dark colored wine, known for its robust tannic notes, took hold in Argentina where the warmer climate favored Malbec’s need for more degree days. It’s since become Argentina’s national wine.

6. Carménère

Known as Chile’s National wine, Carménère is one of the oldest grapes in winemaking history. This peppery wine nearly went extinct in France, where colder winters prevented it from producing any summer yields, but it eventually found its home in South America.


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