Navigating The World Of White Bordeaux

FILED UNDER: Appellations, Know Your Bordeaux, White Wine

With the arrival of Summer, many wine drinkers turn to the cooler side of white. Bordeaux may be more famous for its reds, but we love introducing new wine drinkers to the lighter side of Bordeaux - The White Side  - perfect for the warm weather and summer’s lighter meals. And, these wines are affordable and deliciously easy to drink.  Simply put, if you love Sauvignon Blanc, you will adore the crisp whites of Bordeaux.

CarteUltraSimp2012_UK

To start, one key thing to know about White Bordeaux begins with understanding a system called “AOC” or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. AOC is a classification used in France to ensure origin and quality of goods such as wine and cheese.

Over the centuries, each unique area of Bordeaux became known for producing a specific style of wine due to the influence of a subregion’s terroir and micro-climate on the grapevines. As some grape varieties fare better in some areas and not as well in others, the AOC system helps to classify the type and taste of wines being produced in a given region and ensures a level of quality and authenticity.

White Bordeaux Labels

Bordeaux has five key AOC appellations for the production of white Bordeaux: Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-MersGravesPessac-Léognan and Cotes de Bordeaux. While each AOC produces its distinct style of white wine, all white Bordeaux is made from some combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon – the two key white grape varieties of the region. Below, we help you navigate the AOC of White Bordeaux for your next visit to the wine store. 

Bordeaux AOC: Any white wine from the region of Bordeaux may use this AOC, so long as the vineyard conforms to the regulations. This will be the one most likely found in your local shop, as this AOC produces about 75% of all White Bordeaux wine. These wines are primarily made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, but a small amount of Muscadelle is also used.  They are pale yellow to light gold in color. They have light, zesty aromas of lemon, white fruits and fresh grass. These wines are wonderful easy drinking whites during warmer weather, and pair nicely with light cheeses, salads or fish. Chateau Chaubinet, Chateau Fonfroid, and Chateau Peyruchet are good examples. 

EntreDeuxMers

Entre-Deux-Mers: The area which lies between the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers is called Entre-Deux-Mers.  The literal English translation is “Between Two Seas”, but the original name is believed to be “Entre-Deux-Marées” or “Between Two Tides”. A mix of limestone and clay is the typical soil type where Sauvignon Blanc thrives. There’s also a small amount of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris, a rare cousin of Sauvignon Blanc.  This AOC was created originally in the 1930s, but was not very popular until the 1960s when the lively wines of Entre-Deux-Mers, with their elegant balance of crisp fruit and acidity, were discovered and quickly popularized. These refreshing and clean wines pair perfectly with shellfish, charcuterie or cold chicken. Chateau Bonnet and Chateau Sainte Marie are excellent choices.

Graves: The name of this AOC accurately describes the soil conditions found in the region. Can you guess? Gravel. For thousands of years, the Garonne River has washed gravel and stones down from the mountains and deposited them in Graves. This, naturally, gives the wines produced here a unique and distinctive mineral flavor. A slightly warmer climate allows for greater depth and concentration of body in these wines, and some of the best Graves whites can easily age for 5-10 years. Sauvignon and Semillon are both widely grown and used in varying combinations depending on the vineyard. The wines have aromas both floral and fruity, citrus and acacia flower. They are at once fresh, but with a round and plump quality, racy acidity and that unique gravelly, mineral flavor. They like to be paired with bolder fare, such as roast chicken, pork or paté. Chateau Les Clauzots, and Chateau Hauts Selves for example.

pessac leognan

Pessac-Léognan: Originally part of the Graves AOC, Pessac was given it’s own AOC status in 1987 under the leadership of the late André Lurton. This was because of the unique terroir of this region, which produced the most distinguished wines of Graves. It lies on the left bank of the Garonne, immediately south of the city of Bordeaux. It is one of the warmest AOC’s of Bordeaux and the soils here have an especially deep layer of stony gravel, which can be more than ten feet deep in some parts. AOC rules require at least 25% Sauvignon Blanc must be blended with the usually predominant Semillon.  The rich and complex structure of Pessac-Léognan wines are conducive to oak barrel aging and create long lived white wines which age beautifully. They have a rich aroma and flavors of citrus, white peach, spice, mineral and touches of honey.  They pair with a wide range of foods, from seafood, to chicken, pork or veal. Chateau Carbonnieux is a well known and affordable producer of Pessac-Léognan whites. 

Cotes de Bordeaux: Blaye, Bourg, Graves de Vayres, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux, Saint Macaire. Each is a separate AOC of Cotes de Bordeaux, which beginning in 2009 is required to be labelled: “X, Cotes de Bordeaux” (for example, Blaye, Cotes de Bordeaux).  Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are still the primary components here, however this AOC also uses a little Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Sauvignon Gris. The wines are light, lively, crisp and zesty, and meant to be drunk young and fresh. Lemon and grapefruit citrus tones abound with balanced acids and light, white fruits.  These are picnic, beach, patio or poolside sippers and pair with light dishes of seafood, goat cheese or crudités.

So there you have it! Whatever white wine your palette desires, Bordeaux has an AOC to fit the bill. From a pool side sipper like Cotes de Bordeaux to an elegant accompaniment to an alfresco dinner from Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux should be a regular in your white wine repetoire. Discover your future favorites at your next trip to the wine store. Cheers!

This post was brought to you by Austin-based Bordeaux Wine Buff, Rob Moshein aka Austin Wine Guy and professional of 34 vintages. 

13.12.4 Rob Moshein

Rob Moshein has been a Bordeaux Le Wine Buff from the beginning. He “cut his teeth” on some of the great 1st Growth Bordeaux of the 1960s and 70s. More on Rob at austinwineguy.com.

A Look Back At Lucky Rice [EVENTS]

FILED UNDER: Bordeaux events, Food and Wine Recipes

10_05_13_Cosmo_LuckyRice_Kabik20810_05_13_Cosmo_LuckyRice_Kabik001

This year, we had the pleasure of partnering with the fine folks at Lucky Rice, an Asian food festival featuring regional chefs from across the nation. While at first glance, Bordeaux Wines and Asian cuisine might seem like a peculiar pairing, attendees were surprised and delighted to find how the range of balanced, fresh and crisp Bordeaux whites complimented the flavors, aromas and spices often found in Asian fare. 

BDX At Lucky RiceBottles at LR

 We had a great time with Lucky Rice in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami! Though the journey may be over, you can try this delicious pairing at home any time. Sift through some of our Lucky Rice inspired recipes here or here and find one below from Mr. Chow’s in Miami! 

Scallion Pancakes
Try this classic Chinese scallion pancake and pair with a Bordeaux white. Condiments like Soy Sauce or Sriracha will enhance the flavors.
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 9 scallions, thinly sliced
  2. 1/4 cup sesame oil
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 package phyllo, thawed
  5. All-purpose flour, as needed
  6. Melted butter
Instructions
  1. Mix scallions with sesame oil and the salt. Place one layer of phyllo on work surface and brush with melted butter. Add another layer and repeat with butter. Sprinkle with scallions and repeat with another two layers until you have 10 layers total of phyllo. Repeat whole process until you have used all scallions and phyllo. Slice the large pancakes into smaller squares and bake in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Bordeaux Wines | Blog http://www.bordeaux.com/us/blog/

 

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

 

 

White Wines for Thanksgiving

FILED UNDER: Holidays, Know Your Bordeaux

13.11.22 Thanksgiving Whites

As you prepare for the biggest dinner of the year (hint: Thanksgiving), the last thing you want to stress over is what wines to serve with what course. New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov put it best in his recent Thanksgiving post:

“No matter how much you decide to spend on wine, serving a myriad of sweet and savory foods to a large group is no time to fuss about matching particular bottles with individual flavors; it’s pointless. Instead, simply look for wines that are versatile, nimble enough to go well with a diversity of dishes. You’ll want to offer at least a white and a red, and you’ll want plenty of each. Nothing is worse than running out of wine, except running out of food. Figure a bottle per adult.”

To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of our Top 10 Affordable Bordeaux Whites that will please the white wine lovers in your party and pair with many of the native flavors of a Thanksgiving spread. Look for them at your local retailer or simply ask your wine keep for a Bordeaux red suggestion! 

Château Haut Selve White Crisp, refreshing and well balanced with hints of lemon.

Château Sainte Marie A simple and clean dry white that will satisfy the white wine lover.

Barton & Guestier Passeport  Keep it clean, a sweet Sauternes to pair with fresh fruit. 

Château d’Uza Blanc Here’s the fruity white Bordeaux you’ve been looking for.

Château Les Clauzots An award winning white to pair with soft and hard cheeses, cooked or raw. 

Mouton Cadet A fresh, tropical white to go with salads or really, whatever. 

La Mouliniere White Make this your apertif for the evening. 

Château Mézain A medium bodied white perfect for savory dishes.

Château Fonfroide A blend of 4 grape varietals, try it with salads, fish, or smoked salmon. 

Château Piada Another award winner to have with your bird. 

 

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.