A lesson in Bordeaux continued. This time, Bordeaux Blanc and the Côtes de Bordeaux.
Last week we wrote about the Left Bank and Right Bank of Bordeaux, but there's plenty more to discuss when it comes to such a historic winemaking region. Miss the email? Check it out here.
We touched on Graves, the area on the southern end of the Left Bank of Bordeaux. Its name derives from its typically gravelly soil. Graves' wine region within Bordeaux is unique because it encompasses red wines and dry white wines, and sweet wines (especially Sauternes).
Château de Chantegrive, Graves
Graves' red wines are often more linear in style but are fantastically age-worthy. Plus, they're a proven value for those looking for affordable Bordeaux. We just brought in the 2010 Chateau de Chantegrive "Henri Leveque" Graves Rouge, a roughly equal blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which has the balance of marked tannins and plush crushed red and black currant fruit while also being smoky and firm. A stunning vintage that you can open and enjoy now with a bit of decanting or cellar.
2010 Chateau de Chantegrive "Henri Leveque" Graves Rouge $40/btl down to $36/btl*.
Chateau de Chantegrive also makes excellent white wines. In Bordeaux, white wines, like the reds, are typically blends. The 2017 Chateau de Chantegrive Graves Blanc Cuvée Caroline is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (50%), Sémillon (45%), and a touch of Sauvignon Gris (5%). An excellent vintage that is fresh but aromatically powerful; the perfect balance of fruit and spine. It is intense, expressive, and elegant, with notes of exotic citrus and grapefruit and a dense texture that offers roundness and finesse. The Sauvignon Blanc provides an herbal element on the finish.
2017 Chateau de Chantegrive Graves Blanc Cuvée Caroline $49/btl down to $44.10/btl*.
Other Noteworthy Dry White Wines
Dry white wines from Sauternes? Yes!
Perhaps overshadowed by the pedigree and fame of the sweet wines of Sauternes, enter dry white Bordeaux. Eric Asimov wrote in, "White Bordeaux, In the Flesh" (New York Times, Dec. 11, 2014), "is a phantom wine. We know it exists, but it's seldom visible, rarely mentioned, and hardly ever consumed, at least not with fanfare." But, Asimov is a fan of white Bordeaux, and so are we. In particular, here are two of our current highlights:
2019 Château Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc is a blend of 60% Sémillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Muscadelle, fermented and aged in stainless steel, bottled unfiltered. Winemaker Hervé Dubourdieu is meticulous and a perfectionist. His wines showcase the result of his impeccable care. The high proportion of Sémillon, complemented by the Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, creates a wonderfully dry wine, though its exotic, citrusy, almost tropical perfume may lead you to think otherwise. It is luscious and full but then zips across the palate in a refreshingly restrained, refined manner. A perfect pairing for seafood, sushi, or a simple salad with homemade mayonnaise. And, it won't break the bank, so if you're interested in exploring Bordeaux blanc without the often hefty price tag, this is a great place to start.
2019 Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc $18.50/btl down to $16.65/btl*.
2018 Clos des Lunes "Lune D'Argent" Grand Vin Blanc Sec perfectly captures the expression of its exceptional terroir. Its fruit comes from the superb Clos des Lunes vineyard. Old vines of Semillon (70%) and Sauvignon Blanc (30%) make up the blend. Clos des Lunes is a mix of three complementary terroirs: the Sauternes soils, made up of deep gravel with underground springs, are a guarantee of power in the wines; the gravelly soils on a clay-limestone substratum of Bommes bring freshness, and the red grounds of Barsac are the origin of wines endowed with great elegance and finesse. With a touch of French oak, the Sémillon is dense and rich, the Sauvignon Blanc refined and precise. This cuvée of dry white wine promises to convey all the magic of Sauternes. It shows pear, lychee, and acacia on the nose. An unctuous mouthfeel brings the fruit's richness while maintaining a balance of minerality and freshness on the palate.
2018 Clos des Lunes "Lune D'Argent" Grand Vin Blanc Sec $39/btl down to $35.10/btl*.
Côtes de Bordeaux
The business of Bordeaux. Once separate, these satellite areas combined forces to compete on a global stage.
Nestled in hilly areas on the Right Bank, Côtes de Bordeaux is the 2007 union, initially four, and now five, regions. The original members were the Côtes de Blaye, Côtes de Castillon, Côtes de Francs, and Côtes de Cadillac, with Sainte-Foy added more recently. The idea was to create a recognizable identity and collective brand with a family-like structure. Each area has its unique terroir, so while all use the family name of Côtes de Bordeaux, that is preceded by the first name of Blaye, Francs, Castillon, Cadillac, or Sainte-Foy to highlight the personality of each terroir. Think of these as wines with history, but also the stamp of modernity. And, since the appellation is so young, there's also potential to find great value.
2015 Château de Birot Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux Rouge, which is a blend of 86% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic and concentrated Right Bank Bordeaux that punches well above its weight. It shows dark fruits, plum, sweet tobacco, and silky tannins—a great daily drinker, an excellent value that's ready to drink now. 2015
Chateau de Birot Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux Rouge $21/btl down to $18.90/btl*.
Francs Côtes de Bordeaux is the smallest and most rural of the regions. Le Puy's Emilien holds the fruit from a plot of vines planted with 85% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Malbec 1% Carmenere. After fermentation, the wine matures in oak barrels and casks for 24 months. Blackberries and black currant on the nose, with occasional hints of mushroom and forest floor. Fleshy, silky, and crunchy on the palate while also being well-rounded, full-bodied, and having a long and complex finish. It is a wine blessed with superb longevity, which will serve as a perfect partner for traditional rustic dishes and delicate, complex cuisine—a small miracle of elegance and refinement.
2016 Chateau Le Puy Emilien Francs Cotes de Bordeaux $63/btl down to $56.70/btl*.
Côtes de Bourg
For some unexplained reason, Côtes de Bourg decided not to include itself in the Côtes de Bordeaux appellation.
Located on the Right Bank of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, about 20 miles north of Bordeaux is Côtes de Bourg. The hills (or côtes) and the rivers' proximity are defining characteristics of this picturesque region. Wine has been made here since Roman times, so there is a lot of history in the area. Côtes de Bourg wines typically are full-bodied and structured with an elegant and earthy fruitiness.
We've mentioned the 2014 Château Falfas Côtes de Bourg before, but we can't help but highlight it again because it is so good. It's a blend of 55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec, dense and dark, with notes of blackberry, anise, coffee, and chocolate, but also smoke and spice, and a lingering finish that you won't soon forget.
2014 Chateau Falfas Cotes de Bourg $32/btl down to $28.80/btl*.
*With a six-bottle purchase, mix and match ok!