Bordeaux’s Best Whites
Bordeaux is a region of blended wines, producing styles that have influenced many of the world’s wine producers. Today, the red varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are nearly ubiquitous. It’s wines made from these grapes (plus Cabernet Franc) that made Bordeaux famous.
That blending principle also applies to Bordeaux’s white wines. Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon (sometimes blended with Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris) produce offerings ranging from fresh, fruity examples that should be enjoyed within a year to some of the finest and ageworthy wines in the world.
“The blend may be a tradition, but it’s a tradition with a good reason,” says Thibault Despagne, whose family’s Vignobles Despagne owns several estates in the Entre-deux-Mers, including Châteaux Tour de Mirambeau and Rauzan Despagne.
“The Sauvignon Blanc is a grape that brings aroma and freshness, but which doesn’t age so well,” says Despagne. “The Sémillon is more reticent when it’s young and takes three to four years to show real intensity. It also lends itself to the flavors from wood.”
Put the two together in differing proportions, and you either have wines to drink young or ones for aging. Prices generally match winemaker intent, with light whites starting at $12 per bottle, while the top wines can sell for well over $100.
Photos by Ben Fink