Red Bordeaux wine is usually made from a blend of grapes. Permitted grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère although the last two are rarely grown these days. As a broad generalisation, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the blend in red wines produced in the Médoc and the rest of the left bank of the Gironde estuary. This is often referred to as the “Bordeaux Blend.” Merlot tends to predominate in Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and the other right bank appellations.
White Bordeaux wine is usually, and exclusively in the case of the sweet Sauternes, made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle grapes. As with the red wines, white Bordeaux is usually a blend, most commonly of Sémillon and a smaller proportion of Sauvignon blanc.
The estuary of the river Gironde dominates the region along with its tributaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne, and together irrigate the land to provide an Atlantic Climate. These rivers define the main geographical subdivisions of the region which are – the ‘right bank’ is situated on the right bank of Dordogne, in the northern part of the region, around the city of Libourne – entre-deux-mers, or ‘between two seas’, the area between the rivers Dordogne and Garonne in the centre of the region – and the ‘left bank’, situated on the left bank of Garonne, in the west and south of the region around the city of Bordeaux itself. The left bank is further subdivided into: Graves, the area upstream of the city Bordeaux and Médoc, the area downstream of the city Bordeaux, situated on a peninsula between Gironde and the Atlantic.