Need A White Bordeaux Refresh?

FILED UNDER: Know Your Bordeaux, White Wine, Wine 101

White Grapes

A toast to the season’s wines: whites from Bordeaux.

Spring beckons with silver-throated birds, heralding the warmer months ahead. Nature’s paintbrush dabs the evening skies with spectacular hues of peach, fuchsia and lavender. Fresh aromas of orange zest figs, pears and baked apples waft through the air… scents and sensations evocative of white wines from Bordeaux.

Perhaps it’s a cue to fill your glass with finesse and character, and sip upon these delicious reflections. Perhaps it’s the call of your wine cooler in quest of a spring renewal. Or perhaps it’s your insatiable curiosity simply looking to be slaked…

Image via WineFolly

Image via WineFolly

Bordeaux whites: Two styles. Many nuances.

Whites from Bordeaux are made in two distinct styles: The dry Bordeaux blanc, which speaks the language of wine with a crisp, wry wit. And the renowned sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, which seek a more intense relationship with your palate.

Every year, about four million cases of white Bordeaux wine are produced, accounting for about 10% of all Bordeaux wine. Bordeaux’s high-caliber whites are on par with their globally sought-after reds. And, while some of these whites are of legendary repute and age-worthiness, the majority of Bordeaux’s whites bring value synonymous with quality to your wineglass. These wines are approachable, accessible – and ready to drink when you are.

Is your palate all set for a tryst with Bordeaux whites? An insight into the grapes behind the wines makes your journey of taste more expansive…  

The grapes behind the stars.

One of the four primary grapes in the AOC-labeled white wines of Bordeaux is Sauvignon Blanc, which exudes a crisp, lively character redolent of apples, melons, and peppers. But just when you think you’re well acquainted with this grape, its versatility can make you do a double take. Often referred to as the “chameleon of grapes,” Sauvignon Blanc when blended with Sémillon makes wines that are opulent, honeyed and creamy with complex notes of fig, pear and tobacco, and a silky mouth feel. (Much like a soprano’s voice with a rich, velvety timbre.) The other two grape varieties are the intensely floral Muscadelle, and Ugni Blanc (a primary grape in Cognac) with a fruity, aromatic palate.

The wine and the wallet.

While finesse and age-worthiness are to be much celebrated, it’s heartening to discover the lighter, more affordable side to the Bordeaux white. Whether you seek crisp acidity, creamy richness, a clean palate, or an elegant nose, you’ll find a distinct echo of this quality terroir well within reach. Bordeaux whites are so versatile, they make for an easier, more relaxed conversation between the wine and the wallet. 

Meet the Châteaux.

CarteUltraSimp2012_UK

The white wines of Pessac-Léognan assume a variety of styles – from light and fruit-forward to floral, spicy and mineral. While several chateaux in this region are known to craft white Bordeaux wines with flair, those from Château Haut Brion are considered the most prized, showing sublime character, concentration and complexity.

Nestled between the Dordogne and the Garonne rivers, Entre-Deux-Mers showcases a diversity of wine styles – from the dry whites of Sainte-Foy and Graves de Vayres, to the white dessert wines of Cadillac and Loupiac. The predominant grape in this region is Sauvignon Blanc, with Sémillon and Muscadelle adding structure and depth. Highly regarded for their white wines are Château Bonnet and Château Turcaud. Other top estates are Domaine de Courteillac, Château Grée-Laroque, and Château Rauzan Despagne.

While many of these estates bring high-quality offerings that are accessible to the everyday budget, some other stunning values that come to mind are Château de l’Emigré, Château Marjosse, and Château Graville-Lacoste, and Château Graves de Liron.

14.4.1 Sauternes

The most celebrated sweet Bordeaux wine known for its stellar vintages hails from Château d’Yquem. The estate is famous for Sauternes, a dessert wine made with grapes affected by an amazing fungus called Botrytis cinerea or “noble rot” – as a result of which the wine shows tremendous aromatic complexity.

Château Climens, Château Coutet, Château Guiraud, and Château Raymond Lafon also produce sweet whites of exceptional quality.

Image via utahcitylinks.com

Image via utahcitylinks.com

Pairing: What sings best with Bordeaux’s whites? 

While goat cheese, wild salmon, oysters, shrimp, and salads can play a duet in the mouth with Sauvignon Blanc, unconventional pairings such as sushi and ceviche can be as delightful as jazz. The whites from Sauternes and Barsac sing romantic interludes with blue cheese, foie gras, roasted white meats, and, of course, fruit-based and exotic chocolate desserts.

Ready to glean the top picks of the season and explore their values? Start browsing now.

 

 

Sauternes As Your Thanksgiving Aperitif

FILED UNDER: Buying & Choosing Wine, Holidays, Know Your Bordeaux, White Wine

13.11.26 Sauternes

Though Sauternes, Bordeaux’s signature sweet white wine, is often described as a dessert wine, it is in fact a perfect complement to certain savory and spicy dishes. For instance, the French regularly pair this golden, sweet wine with distinct ingredients such as foie gras and sharp cheese. Sauternes also makes for a fantastic aperitif and a great way to set the mood for a special occasion. 

aperitif

Kick off your Thanksgiving dinner with a surprising little twist and blow your dinner guests away. Below, find a few tips on how to serve Sauternes as an aperitif. If you don’t already have aperitif size stemware in your collection, this might be a nice excuse to do so. 

If you don’t already have aperitif size stemware in your collection, this might be a nice excuse to do so. 

Chill the Sauternes in advance. It’s best served around 45-50 degrees Farenheit which is about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than your fridge. 

Sauternes is a sipping wine. You don’t need to pour a lot of it, which is why you can often find it in a half bottle size. Consider pouring about half a regular glass worth.

If you really want to tickle the palette, serve a spread of sharp cheese like Roquefort for guests to nibble on as they sip! 

We recommend two Sauternes from this year’s Today’s Bordeaux selection. Find them at your local retailer or simply ask your wine clerk for Sauternes! 

Barton & Guestier Passeport 2010

Château Piada 2006

 

 

An Ode to Sweet Sauternes

FILED UNDER: Appellations, Buying & Choosing Wine, Grapes, White Wine, Wine 101

13.10.30 Sauternes

Sauternes is a French sweet wine from the namesake appellation within the Graves section of Bordeaux. Championed by Dutch master traders during the 17th century, Sauternes is made from a blend of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes. Its rich golden color and signature sweetness is achieved by an infestation of Botrytis or more commonly referred to as, noble rot.

Noble Rot

During the process of noble rot, wine grapes are left to ripen and then rot. Ideally, the grapes are dried out to an almost raisin like state and have retained high concentrations of sugar before they are harvested for sweet wine production.

chateau d'yquem

The wines of Sauternes attained the pinnacle of the Bordeaux hierarchy in the 19th century, as attested by their inclusion in the famous 1855 classification – the only region in Bordeaux other than the Médoc to receive this special honor. That said, you don’t need to have Château d’Yquem‘s First Growth wines to experience the unique taste and quality of Bordeaux’s signature sweet wine. You can find two affordable Sauternes options here or simply ask your local wine store professional if they carry sweet Bordeaux.

Contrary to popular misconception, sweet white wines are not meant to be served with desserts only. In fact, they are delicious as an apertif and can compliment many different types of flavors. However, it’s probably best to avoid too sweet or too spicy. We suggest pairing with blue or Roquefort cheeses, Duck á l’orange, a poultry tagine or the Bordelais favorite Sauternes pairing, Foie gras.  For more Sauternes pairing ideas, check out this article from Food & Wine.  

Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys of 2013

FILED UNDER: Buying & Choosing Wine, Know Your Bordeaux, White Wine

WE #1

Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently released their Top 100 Best Buys of 2013 and we’re thrilled to announce that one of our own claimed the top spot! The editors of the magazine write:

“All of the wines included here have suggested retail prices of $15 or less and are all awarded our Best Buy qualification, meaning they possess an excellent quality–to-price ratio. Of the thousands of wines reviewed over the past 12 months, only 922 (or roughly 5%) were awarded the Best Buy designation. 

From there, we select the top wines that exhibit the best relationship between score and price while also considering other factors like availability and buzz. We also examine the list’s overall balance, so we can ultimately offer a selection that spans a wide array of styles, varieties and regions.”

This year’s number one spot goes to a Merlot/Cab blend from Château Mayne-Guyon, Côtes de Bordeaux which was also included in our Today’s Bordeaux selections. Not to be forgotten, two white Bordeaux wines also ranked, along with several other value reds from the region!

Click the thumbnails for more details or download the full list from Wine Enthusiast here.

WE#17WE#21

WE#39WE #46

WE #69

 

 

13 Under $13

Link

13.09.13 Friday 2

In honor of Friday the 13th (the first of two in 2013), we put together a list of 13 affordable Bordeaux wines all under $13. Enjoy! 

2012 Château La Moulinière, White / Dry, Fresh & Fruity / $10.99

2012 Château Mezain,White / Dry, Fresh & Fruity / $13.00

2010 Château de Beauregard-Ducourt, White / Dry, Fresh & Fruity / $11.99

2010 Château Beauséjour, Fronsac, Red / Robust & Fresh / $12.99

2012 Château Ballan-Larquette, White / Dry, Fresh & Fruity / $11.99

2012 Armand Roux, Verdillac, Rosé / Lively & Fruity / $10.00

2011 Château Mayne Guyon, Red / Delicate & Fruity / $10.99

2012 Château Sainte Marie, White / Dry, Fresh & Fruity / $11.00

2010 Château Millet, Red / Robust & Fresh / $11.99

2012 Château Fonfroide, White / Dry, Fresh & Fruity / $12.99

2011 Château Chaubinet, White  / Dry, Fresh & Fruity / $12.00

2010 Château Brassac, Red / Robust & Fresh / $12.00

2011 Mouton Cadet, Red / Robust & Fresh / $10.00