Bordeaux Right Bank
Thanks to variations in soil, climate and grape varieties, Right Bank wines have a different feel to those of the Left Bank. Often lighter and less tannic, these wines can often be drunk relatively young as far as Bordeaux wines go.
While the Right Bank may not be as famous as its counterpart across the water, it still contains two prestigious appellations: Pomerol and Saint-Émilion. There are also smaller appellations such as Blaye, Blaye-Côtes-de-Bordeaux and Côtes-de-Bourg. Merlot grapes dominate the Right Bank, although Cabernet Franc is also frequently used. There are also some areas planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux AOC — formerly known as Côtes-de-Castillon — sits on the eastern edge of the Bordeaux wine region. It's located just to the east of Saint-Émilion, and this is reflected in its wines, which can be quite similar to Saint-Émilion wines.
The appellation produces exclusively red wine, made mostly from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc grapes. Vineyards with more clay-rich soils tend to favour Merlot, producing softer wines for younger drinking. Gravel-rich vineyards, on the other hand, typically produce Cabernet-based wines, which are best cellared for a few years.
Pomerol is the smallest major fine wine region in Bordeaux, with just under 800 hectares of vines. It was only recognised as a distinct region in 1923, before which it was part of the neighbouring Saint-Émilion region. This partly explains why there are no classified Pomerol growths, despite the region producing wines that are sometimes on a par with some of the top Bordeaux châteaux.
Although Pomerol used to produce predominantly white wine, Pomerol wines are now exclusively red. Using mostly Merlot blended with some Cabernet Franc, these wines are often described as being halfway between the soft fruitiness of Saint-Émilion and the more austere, tannin-rich Médoc wines.
The large Saint-Émilion AOC sits just east of the city of Libourne on the Right Bank. It has its own classification, which started in 1955 and — unlike the Left Bank 1855 classification — is regularly updated.
The Saint-Émilion classification consists of premier grand cru classé A (equivalent to Médoc First Growths); premier grand cru classé B; and grand cru classé. There are also over two hundred other Saint-Émilion wines described as “grand cru”, which are not part of the offficial classification.
Saint-Émilion wines tend to be fruity and fresh compared to the more austere Left Bank wines. As with many Right Bank regions, Merlot tends to dominate Saint-Émilion wines, with Cabernet Franc typically added to impart more texture and complexity.