Guide to the Wines of Côtes de Bordeaux

I’m fascinated by Côtes de Bordeaux which is comprised of Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon, Francs and Sainte-Foy appellations. Look at these growing regions as a sorority of sorts — unique individuals grouped together with a common purpose.

I love this explanation from the Côtes de Bordeaux website:

A Côtes de Bordeaux is:

a wine that has a history and at the same time is full of modernity

a wine that develops the imagination, which refers to the heart of hillsides , around a story, a family

a wine with a human face, personified by its ambassador: the winemaker

a wine conceived with passion, which symbolizes the love of the craft and the know-how of the winemakers

discovery wine, a ” nugget ” that accompanies the beautiful moments of sharing and encourages conviviality

a wine to please

a safe bet

an elegant, round and structured wine, with good aging potential, to drink without waiting or keeping

a wine that can be opened for any occasion

a wine that can be offered to friends without being mistaken

an entry in a core family, concerned about its expertise…

… It’s the Bordeaux, heart side

Côtes deBordeaux (1)

Wines to Try

Château Haut La Valette Cuvée Caractères 2014 > Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux: Blaye is located about 28 miles north of Bordeaux, facing the Médoc. With 240 days of sunshine and clay-limestone soil, this terroir takes advantage of its location on the Gironde estuary. “Half-river, half-sea, the Gironde has had a pervasive influence on the region’s history,” according to Vins Blaye. “Most of our vines are grown on the slopes along the estuary, though there are also vineyards on the plain and on high plateaus.” The winemakers and growers of Blaye project and playful and welcoming attitude – a place where wine tasting visits are pure fun.

Château Haut La Valette Cuvée Caractères 2014 retails at about $8. $8! Such a high-quality wine, full-bodied and packed with red fruit and dusky florals. Silky, juicy and elegant — something to serve with friends, a special wine. Pair with Grilled Mushrooms with Hoisin Sauce for a meatless option — yes, red Bordeaux without meat. Summer grilling perfection!

Côtes de Bordeaux wines, affordable French wine, red wine

Château La Prade 2014 > Francs Côtes de Bordeaux: “The vine mixes gently with pastures and woods, ” according to the Francs website. “The high green hills, the hillsides planted with Merlot or Semillon glide gently towards small rivers, fields of poppies and gold buttons blending well with the orchards and old stones, witnesses of a rich past.” That’s beautiful.

A mild climate and vibrant, seasoned history combine in this region where winegrowing is the root of commerce and tourism. Nicolas Thienpoint is behind this wine — a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. In 2014 nearly half of the vineyards were destroyed by frost, so for around $8, this is a remarkable bottle.  Juicy, soft and a touch spicy — this could age a few more years. Pair with Chicken with Herb Salsa Verde.

red wine for summer, bordeaux, merlot

Château Ampélia 2014 > Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux: Castillion Côtes de Bordeaux calls itself “a vineyard on a human scale”, owing identity to 230 winemaking families of the appellation. With attention to aspiring winemakers, the region hopes to continue to develop more young people and women into enterprising roles.

A limestone composition similar to Saint-Emilion, an altitude variation of 100 meters and southern exposure take credit for the character of Castillion wines. 25% of growers are organic or biodynamic — one appellation that brings up the lead in sustainability in Bordeaux. Dark berries and fresh acid come through in Castillion — pair with Hamburger with Tomato Relish.

wine photography, wine blog

Château Carbonneau Cuvee Classique 2014 > Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux: Sainte-Foy is the most recent addition to the Côtes de Bordeaux grouping. Situated to the east Gironde department near  Pessac sur Dordogne and Gensac, these vineyards joined Côtes de Bordeaux in 2016. Clay-limestone soils with river gravel make this a unique terroir, favorable for the classic varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. White stars are Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Semillon. Packed with red fruit and a bit of pepper, pair with Lamb Sausage with Tzatziki.

Bordeaux Map

Note: This wine was featured in my Mapping France in Wine Bottles: Where to Get Affordable French Wine feature >

Château Carbonneau Cuvee Classique, Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux 2014: Jacquie and Wilfrid Franc de Ferrière and their children call this place home and hope you will too, at least for a short stay in their luxury accommodations. The family has a lovely story, setting up the dream of restoring this property into the impressive vineyard and luxury lodging that it is today. Cool fact: cattle roam and create natural fertilizer and ground-turning on the land here. There are five bottles in their range and I’m offering the Classique (70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec) which comes at a coin-jingling $12.

Château de Fontenille 2014 > Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux: Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux snakes with the right bank of the Garonne in a narrow (5 km or less at any given point) river-front band. Soils exhibit varying degrees of gravel interspersed with limestone and clay. Wines have been grown here for centuries and this history dates back to Roman times when vineyards were planted on the hillsides — a characteristic growing environment that persists today. Packed with dark fruit and pepper, pair with Flatiron Steak with Peppercorn Sauce.


The vineyard of Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux - Gironde

The Vineyards of Côtes de Bordeaux Castillion. Credit:Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux


Note: This wine was featured in my Mapping France in Wine Bottles: Where to Get Affordable French Wine feature >

Château de Fontenille 2014 > Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux: Stéphane Defraine has been working his historic vineyards since 1989, now utilizing an environmental management system that, to me, echoes the Lodi Rules which honor the environment as well as the community and people who work in the vineyards. This bottle (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) comes in at about $17; I’m impressed that such a careful wine is available at this price.


For More Information

Côtes de Bordeaux

Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux

Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux

Francs Côtes de Bordeaux

Castillion Côtes de Bordeaux

Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux

Bordeaux Classifications: The 1855 classification, The Graves classificationThe Saint-Émilion classificationThe Crus Bourgeois du Médoc classification and The Crus Artisans classification.

The French Winophiles

Join our group of writers as we focus on the wines of Côtes de Bordeaux in May. We’ve prepared the following posts and will gather on Twitter for a chat on Saturday, May 19, 2018 under the hashtag #Winophiles. Look for the following themes:

Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Côtes de Bordeaux pairings through Blaye, Cadillac & Castillon

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers “Exploring the Côtes de Bordeaux with Simple, Salty, Spicy Nibbles

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Celebrating the Warm Weather with Bordeaux

David from Cooking Chat brings us “Cheesy Beef Casserole with Wine from Côtes de Bordeaux

Nicole from Somm’s Table explores “2 oz Pours: 5 Nights of BDX

Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog offers “Côtes de Bordeaux: Your Go-To For Affordable, Approachable Bordeaux

Gwen from Wine Predator shares “Affordable French: Bordeaux and Burgers for #Winophiles

Rupal the Syrah Queen gives us “5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Côtes de Bordeaux

L’Occasion offers a “Guide to the Wines of Côtes de Bordeaux

Lynn of Savor the Harvest shares “Côtes de Bordeaux: A Chateau Carsin Surprise

Jeff at FoodWineClick! shares “Drinking Tuesday Night Bordeaux

Liz Barrett of What’s In That Bottle helps us with “Get to Know Côtes de Bordeaux #Winophiles

Lauren from The Swirling Dervish offers “Côtes de Bordeaux: Why It Should Be on Your Wine Shopping List

Amber of Wine Travel Eats gives us “Salmanazar – Côtes de Bordeaux

Our host Michelle of Rockin’ Red Blog is “Drinking Bordeaux in Blue Jeans

Please join the #winophiles Côtes de Bordeaux chat on Saturday, May 19 at 10 am central on Twitter. We will discuss wine, food pairings, culture, and the region. All are welcome and encouraged to participate in the chat.

Thanks to Michelle for hosting and Côtes de Bordeaux for providing media samples. All opinions are my own.

25 thoughts on “Guide to the Wines of Côtes de Bordeaux

  1. I love the sense of place that you bring to each of these wines. I enjoy visualizing the place as you describe the wines. And the infographic is both beautiful and highly informative! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The descriptions of each of the five Côtes makes me want to find and dive into a bottle from each! Many similarities between the areas/soils yet differences. Nice guide and infographic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great infographic explaining the basics on Cotes de Bordeaux. I love that we all had a range of wines to explore but that we came to similar conclusions – these wines are great value, ready-to-drink, and willing food partners.

    Liked by 1 person

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