Exploring the Natural Side of Bordeaux

Even the most casual enthusiasts recognize Bordeaux's significance as one of the world's premier wine regions: its storied Châteaux have become the stuff of legend, epitomizing the heights of Old-World elegance. But with top wines easily fetching thousands of dollars, it's understandable why the region has increasingly lost cachet among a younger generation of drinkers.

In certain circles, it's hip to gush over lesser-known, value-driven zones of production, such as the Loire or Jura. And for those of us whose taste developed alongside the popularization of "natural wine"—those earthy, soulful bottles produced in miniscule quantities with as little chemical or technological intervention as possible—drinking Bordeaux might seem a bit "square" or unfashionable, like wearing a Dave Matthews T-shirt to some obscure indie-rock show.

With this in mind, I was more than intrigued when the Bordeaux Wine Council invited me on a recent press trip to explore a different side of the region, far removed from its aristocratic stereotypes. With a special focus on exploring the area's unsung natural growers—from a handful of larger properties that only recently shifted gears to the tiny family estates dotting the banks of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers—I discovered an alternative Bordeaux, one deeply entrenched in tradition while constantly looking toward the future. Here's a brief glimpse of what I encountered along the way.