Summer Drinking Series: White Bordeaux

by Caroline Tanner

We鈥檙e diving into the Lea & Sandeman cellars to find the perfect wines for your glass this summer.

Chances are, if you鈥檙e thinking about buying Bordeaux at the moment, you鈥檙e probably planning to open it in 5-10 years鈥 time. Or at least squirreling a bottle away 鈥榝or a rainy day鈥, when temperatures have dropped and rich reds seem all the more appealing for it. However, more immediate drinking pleasure can be found in the often-overlooked Bordeaux whites.

White Bordeaux wines are typically blends made from a combination of Sauvignon Blanc, S茅millon, and sometimes Muscadelle. Sauvignon Blanc provides vibrant citrus and herbaceous aromas, while S茅millon adds body, richness, and a touch of honeyed character. The Muscadelle grape can contribute floral and exotic fruit notes to the blend. These grapes benefit from Bordeaux鈥檚 proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gironde estuary; the combination of cool maritime breezes and ample sunshine allows grapes to fully ripen whilst retain a balancing acidity, essential for a refreshing summer wine.

In terms of style, white Bordeaux wines can vary from lively and fresh to rich and creamy. Wines with a higher percentage of S茅millon and aged or fermented in oak barrels tend to exhibit a fuller body and a luscious texture, often accompanied by notes of honey, almond, and ripe stone fruits. On the other hand, wines with a higher proportion of Sauvignon Blanc maintain freshness, boasting zesty citrus flavours, herbaceous notes, and a bright, mouthwatering acidity.

One of the key factors contributing to the increased quality of white Bordeaux wines was the pioneering work of Denis Dubourdieu, a renowned winemaking consultant and academic. Dubourdieu’s research and innovation revolutionised winemaking techniques in Bordeaux, resulting in wines that are vibrant, expressive, and true to their terroir. Dubourdieu’s work emphasised preserving the purity of fruit flavours in white wines. He advocated for careful handling of the grapes, gentle pressing, and temperature control during fermentation to retain the aromatic and fruity characteristics of the grapes. He also championed a more judicious use of oak and stressed the importance of retaining acidity, especially in warmer vintages.

 

The best part? White Bordeaux wines often provide incredible value for their quality. While red Bordeaux wines may come with a higher price tag due to their aging potential, white Bordeaux wines offer an opportunity to explore the region’s terroir and craftsmanship at a more accessible price point.

 

We鈥檝e pulled out a couple of excellent examples from the Lea & Sandeman range that are calling out to be drunk in the sunshine: the crisp and lively Ch芒teau Beaumont Blanc ‘Les Pierri猫res’ Blaye and the elegant and expressive Le G de Guiraud Bordeaux Blanc from Ch芒teau Guiraud.

It is also worth noting that our shops often have a range of fine white Bordeaux by the odd bottle that may not be available on the website. For example, at the time of writing, the Chelsea shop has 2004 Pavillon Blanc de Ch芒teau Margaux, 2016 Smith Haut Lafitte, 2010 Domaine de Chevalier, 2018 Blanc de Lynch Bages, 2015 Ch芒teau Carbonnieux and 2018 Arums de Lagrange.

2021 CH脗TEAU BEAUMONT Blanc 'Les Pierri猫res' Blaye

2021 CH脗TEAU BEAUMONT Blanc ‘Les Pierri猫res’ Blaye
拢13.95 | 拢12.50

This is fast becoming one of the most popular white wines at L&S. As ever M. Filliatreau gives his white around six week in the barrels that will be used for the red once that is ready to come out of its fermentation vats. A canny use of resources that adds real class to this well-priced white Bordeaux. Pineapple and grapefruit on the nose along with a hint of vanilla. On the palate, the texture takes over. The juice is dense with good focus and energy. There is bags of flavour and character. A real charmer that continues to offer amazing value for money.

Pair it with grilled fish, fresh salads, or goat cheese.

2021 LE G DE GUIRAUD Bordeaux Blanc Ch芒teau Guiraud
拢21.95 | 拢19.95

Produced by one of Sauternes’ most prestigious estates ,Le G de Guiraud Bordeaux Blanc is crafted primarily from Sauvignon Blanc, with a touch of S茅millon.

鈥業t offers light Granny Smith apple and light petrichor scents on the nose. The palate is well balanced with good concentration and lightly spiced, leading to a cohesive finish.鈥 鈥 Neal Martin, Vinous

Pair with seafood, poultry, or creamy cheeses.