"Right bank Bordeaux" refers to wines from the vineyards on the North bank of the Gironde and Dordogne rivers. The wines are characterised by the dominance of Merlot in the blend of grapes used.
Left Bank Bordeaux wines, generally from much larger estates in the Médoc region with appellations such as Margaux, St Julien and Pauillac and in the Pessac-Léognan/ Graves region, contain more Cabernet Sauvignon.
This difference in the dominant grape means that the style of right bank and left bank Bordeaux are quite different.
Top Right Bank appellations
The appellations of St Emilion and Pomerol are generally better known these days than Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac; together the 4 appellations account for only about 10% of the vineyards of Bordeaux but they produce some really fabulous wines. Whilst St Emilion and Pomerol are more popular, their prices have risen in recent years after several good vintages in the Bordeaux region as a whole and consequently it is worth looking to Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac, considered the superior appellation of the two, for a similar flavour profile and better value.
Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac
The Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac vineyards are on the limestone soils of the higher land away from the river bank; the cool soils help the grapes reach full size during the hotter vintages. But poor soils and the difficult Merlot grape require careful viticulture. In recent years, a new generation of winemakers, investment in equipment and improvements in wine-making techniques have led to better quality, juicy yet elegant wines that can compete with their better known neighbours.
The spectacular vineyards of Château Gaby, a top class Canon-Fronsac château, are pictured above. See Château du Gaby Canon-Fronsac AC 2002 and Château du Gaby Canon-Fronsac AC 2004 for fine examples from this appellation.