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The magnificent 10: top Bordeaux winemakers

vineyard and Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes Region, France

No other wine region in the world has as prestigious a collection of names as Bordeaux. Knowing them all is like being able to list the seven wonders of the ancient world. They are luxury wines, accessible only to a few, privileged consumers. But don’t let that scare you away. Here they are in alphabetical order for your enjoyment:

1. Chateau Ausone

Courtesy of Ch Ausone
  • Named after the Latin poet Ausonius
  • Thought to be the oldest wine château in Bordeaux
  • Privately owned by the Vauthier family
  • Première Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ in St-Émilion
  • Typical blend: 55% Cabernet Franc, 45% Merlot
  • Young vintages with a price range of £400-1,800/ bottle
  • Second wine: Chapelle d’Ausone

2. Chateau Cheval Blanc

The legendary 1947 wine, courtesy of Ch. Cheval Blanc
  • Première Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ in St-Émilion
  • Considered the most famous wine in St-Émilion
  • The vineyard landscape is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
  • Owned by chairmain of LVMH and his business partner
  • Blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot with proportions depending on the vintage
  • Young vintages with a price range of £500-1,200/bottle
  • Second wine: Le Petit Cheval

3. Chateau Haut-Brion

Courtesy of Ch. Haut-Brion
  • Première Grand Cru Classé,  from Grave, on the Left Bank
  • Smallest of the Left Bank first growths
  • The first property in Bordeaux to start selling wines under its own name
  • Bought in 1935 by Mr Clarence Dillon, an American banker. Today, managed by his grandson with his mother
  • Makes both red and white wines
  • More austere in style than the other Left Bank first growths, but also the most reliable
  • Typical blend for red: 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
  • Typical blend for white:  Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, with proportions depending on each vintage
  • Young vintages with prices starting at £300/bottle for red and £1,000/ bottle for white.
  • Second wine: Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (previously called Bahans-Haut-Brion)
  • Sister wine: Ch. La Mission Haut-Brion

4. Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

  • Première Grand Cru Classé, from Pauillac, on the Left Bank
  • Owned by the family of Baron Rothschild
  • One of the most famous first growths in Britain
  • Most sought after first growth on the Chinese market
  • Blend of 80-95%  Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot making up much of the rest (though there are variations in every vintage)
  • Young vintages with prices starting at £600/bottle for less famous years
  • Second wine: Les Carruades de Lafite-Rothschild

5. Chateau Latour

  • Première Grand Cru Classé, from Pauillac, on the Left Bank
  • One of the most sought-after and expensive wine producers on the planet
  • Owned by the French businessman François Pinault
  • In 2012, it decided to withdraw from the en primeur market, releasing wines only when they are ready to drink
  • Typical blend: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, with a dash of Petit Verdot
  • Very consistent in style every year
  • Price: ~£600/bottle for 2005 vintage, ~£1100/bottle for the 2010 vintage, which was rated 100 points by Robert Parker
  • Second wine: Les Forts de Latour
  • Third wine since 1989, developed primarily for restaurants

6. Chateau Margaux

Courtesy of Ch. Margaux
  • Première Grand Cru Classé, from Margaux, on the Left Bank
  • Considered the most elegant of the first growths
  • Poor performance in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but serious improvement in quality after that
  • Among the first properties in Bordeaux to start selling wine under their own name
  • Owned by the Mentzelopoulos family
  • Average price of £500/bottle, with 2005 and 2010 vintages more expensive than that. Less famous vintages at lower prices
  • Makes a superb white wine as well, Pavillon Blanc de Ch. Margaux, which can only qualify for Bordeaux AOC appellation because Margaux AOC is red only
  • Second wine: Pavillon Rouge du Ch. Margaux
  • Third wine: Margaux du Ch. Margaux

7. Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Courtesy of Ch. Mouton Rothschild
  • Second growth in the 1855 classification – the only wine promoted to 1st growth in 1973, following the persistence of its owner
  • From Pauillac, on the Left Bank
  • Owned by the family of Baron of Rothschild
  • Famous from its art-deco labels on the grand-vin, designed each year by a famous artist, among them Chagall and Picasso
  • Artists designing the label for the grand vin are paid in wine!
  • Typical blend: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot
  • Known for its inconsistency in style
  • Price at ~£600/ bottle for younger vintages
  • Make a white wine, Aile d’Argent, again only Bordeaux AOC
  • Second wine: Le Petit Mouton

8. Le Pin

Courtesy of BBR
  • From Pomerol, on the Right Bank, not part of any official classification
  • Started as a vin de garage, with only 1ha of vineyard. Now it has 2 ha, but still minuscule production
  • Has a mystical, secretive quality – the producer doesn’t even have a website  (trust us, they don’t need it!)
  • Owned by Jacques Thienpont
  • 100% Merlot
  • Considered the most expensive wine in the world, more expensive than the Burgundian La Tache
  • Price: 2009 vintage: £3,900 (BBR); same year La Tache (Domaine de la Romanee-Conti): £2,750/bottle
  • No second wine

9. Chateau Pétrus

Courtesy of BBR
  • From Pomerol, on the Right Bank, not part of any official classification
  • Owned by the Moueix family and distributed through exclusive, hand picked agents
  • Started to receive international attention with the legendary 1945 and 1947 vintages. I remember hearing about this wine in the RED2 movie, when Catherina Zeta-Jones threatens to smash it as a torture measure
  • Best after a decade or two in the bottle
  • 100% Merlot
  • Price per bottle: £1,600-2000 for young vintages
  • No second wine

10. Chateau d’Yquem

Courtesy of Ch. d’Yquem
  • The greatest wine of Sauternes and, according to the famous 1855 classification, of the entire Bordeaux region
  • Sweet, golden, luscious, and apparently immortal
  • LVMH acquired majority ownership in 1999
  • Typical blend: 80% semillon and 20% sauvignon blanc
  • If the grapes are not good enough, they release no wine
  • Price starts at ~£150 for a half-bottle


So there you have it – the most acclaimed producers in all of Bordeaux. If you’re feeling inspired, why not tell us about your favourite Bordeaux experience in the comments below.

Vincarta’s Bordeaux selection

While wines from producers in this article can cost thousands of pounds per bottle, we’ve chosen two remarkable, premium-quality wines to represent Bordeaux in the Vincarta range and they are a little more reasonable in price.

  • Château Martet Sainte Foy Bordeaux Blanc 2016

    Delicate, crisp white £19.50 Add to basket

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