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Bordeaux: The Original Home of Sauvignon

BY Andrew Barrow

1st Jan 2015 Drinks

Bordeaux: The Original Home of Sauvignon

Aaah, Sauvignon Blanc – that vibrant, punchy wine redolent of cut green peppers, hawthorn and Elderberry blossom, of crushed grass and wet fresh water pebbles. I hear good things of versions from New Zealand and a friend or two, mentioned in passing, how good some bottles from the Loire can be. But the home of Sauvignon Blanc is not the Loire, nor is it New Zealand. It is Bordeaux.

The Sauvignon Blac of Bordeaux

While today Bordeaux is probably more famous for its clarets and sweet whites at one time until the 1970’s, white wine production, based on Sauvignon Blanc, far outstripped red wine. But you seldom see Sauvignon emblazoned on the front label. The French are like that, the grape is secondary. From a marketing point of view they are missing a trick – witness the ever growing flow of New Zealand Sauvignon off the shelves.

In Bordeaux they have two broad styles of dry white wine. It can be oaked or unoaked. I rather like the depth, roundness and added complexity a little oak can bring, but I also enjoy the freshness of unoaked versions. Of course they have a couple of other grapes that can sometimes be added to a bottle. A dash of Semillon adds roundness and a little honeyed richness. Muscadelle brings floral aromas but the dry wines seldom see more than 10%. Some mention a musky edge form Muscadelle too.

Bordeaux Sauvignon is made to be enjoyed with food – not that having a glass while you are cooking is a crime. The unoaked versions with more lemony and grapefruit flavours are superb with salads, seafood and grilled fish.

The oaked versions with more tropical fruit flavours are better with white meat, richer fish dishes especially those with sauces, and are great with cheeses. Bordeaux Whites with a touch of oak are a firm favourite in my household with all manner of cheeses.

Five fantastic examples to hunt out and try:

Chateau Thieuley 2013; Chateau Thieuley Cuvee Francis Courselle 2010, Laithwaites £15.99

Chateau Thieuley Sauvignon Blanc

Clos Floridene 2011, The Wine Society £19

Clos Floridene 2011

Chateau Carbonnieux 2011, South Down Cellars £52.95

Chateau Carbonnieux 2011

Chateau Sainte-Marie, Great Western Wines £10.95 

Chateau Sainte-Marie

Chateau Reynon, 2013, The Wine Society £6.95 

Chateau Reynon 2013 (unoaked)

Andrew Barrow is the resident drinks expert for and the author of the wonderful drinks blog Spittoon

Read more articles by Andrew Barrow here

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