Bordeaux Wine Route isn’t actually one route. Vineyards are all around Bordeaux.
There are 60 wine appellations in the Bordeaux area. However, the 6 main Bordeaux Wine Routes are:
1. Medoc – Left Bank, northwest of the city of Bordeaux
2. Saint-Emilion and Pomerol – Right Bank, east of the city of Bordeaux
3. Pessac-Leognan and Graves – Left Bank, south of the city of Bordeaux
4. Sauternes and Barsac – Left Bank, southwest of the city of Bordeaux
5. Entre-Deux-Mers southwest of the city of Bordeaux
6. Cotes de Bourg and Cotes de Blaye – Right Bank, northeast of the city of Bordeaux
The first four are famous for producing top Bordeaux wines, while the first two are the most popular among Bordeaux visitors.
I recommend that you spend at least one day in each of the Bordeaux wine regions. While it is possible to cover two wine regions in one day, it would involve more driving and less tasting.
If you are not sure which Bordeaux wine route to take first, here is my quick summary table as well as brief information on each wine region to help you decide.
dry red and white
Main grape varieties
Driving time from Bordeaux
30 mins to 1 hour
45 mins to 1 hour
20 minutes to 45 minutes
Wide variety of wine styles
Many family-owned wineries
Historic towns and castles
High quality and good value wines
Close to the city of Bordeaux
Highest quality sweet wines
Unusual winemaking techniques
Saint-Emilion can get touristy in the summer
Tourism infrastructure less developed than in Medoc and Saint-Emilion
Not great if you want to taste Bordeaux red wines
The Medoc world-famous wine region is a long strip of land along the Gironde estuary on the east of the Medoc peninsula, located northwest of the city of Bordeaux.
The most prestigious areas of the Medoc wine country are Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Saint-Estephe, and Haut-Medoc. “Medoc” also refers to a specific lesser-known wine appellation in the north of the Medoc peninsula.
In the Medoc, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot would be the most common. Only dry red wines are permitted under the appellation rules. Many visitors choose Medoc, and particularly Pauillac, for their wine tasting as wines in this area are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon.
Medoc is also known as the land of a thousand chateaux. In the 17th century, the quality of the Medoc wines became known in Europe. The Dutch engineers were hired to drain the Medoc marshlands making more lands suitable for vineyards. The profitable wine business allowed local nobility to raise impressive castles that can be found along the Medoc Route of the Chateaux.
The wineries here are grand and well-equipped, many are owned today by French corporations and banks.
The Medoc wine route is quite easy to navigate. Most wineries are located along or near the D2 road.
RELATED: Best Medoc Wine Tours
Saint-Emilion is one of the oldest wine areas around Bordeaux. There is evidence that wines were made here back in Roman times. The Saint-Emilion region is also well-known for supplying wine to European royal courts in Middle Ages.
The charming village of Saint-Emilion dating back to the 9th century is a display of Medieval architecture. Many buildings were erected as early as the 12th century while the tower of the local treasure, Saint-Emilion Monolithic Church, was completed in the 15th century.
Merlot is king in Saint-Emilion. It is usually blended with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, however, many wineries would also produce 100% Merlot wines. Only dry red wines are permitted to be labeled Saint-Emilion.
At the same time, most of the 900 wineries in this region are very small family-owned estates, where you can meet owners and learn all about winemakers’ life firsthand.
The Saint-Emilion wine region is connected to Bordeaux by a good highway. From the center of Bordeaux, the drive to Saint-Emilion would take approximately 45 minutes.
RELATED: Saint-Emilion Wine Tours
Closest to the city of Bordeaux, this wine-making region is a cradle of Bordeaux wine fame. Pessac-Leognan has a truly unique terroir allowing to produce both excellent reds and white wines.
Pessac-Leognan produces some very good–value-for-money wines and is favored by Bordeaux locals (les Bordelais).
RELATED: Pessac-Leognan Full-Day Wine Tour
Sauternes and Barsac are known for sweet white wines made of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Chateau D’Yquem is at the top of Sauternes wineries, producing the most delicate and aromatic sweet wines.
Recently, many wineries in the region started production of high-quality dry whites, which I highly recommend to taste.
Sauternes is beautifully picturesque wine region with rivers, hills and castles, and way less tourists, which makes it a great destination for a relaxing day trip from Bordeaux. At the same time, there is no lack of excellent hotels and restaurants in the Sauternes region.
My favourite part of Sauternes wine tours is If you are visiting in October, November or December, the wineries can still be harvesting.
RELATED: Sauternes Full-Day Wine Tour
Hi, my name is Polina. I am a sommelier and a wine tour guide in Bordeaux, France.
I travel to find best wines, wineries and nice places to eat in wine country.