Most casual drinkers only know Bordeaux for typical red wine. For sure, it’d come as a shock to them, if the sommelier brought a bottle of white wine if having ordered a Bordeaux. The usual exclaim would be, “Bordeaux only produces red wine!.”
But this statement could not be more distant from the truth. Sure, Bordeaux is prominent for its best red wines. However, it’s home to some of the best dry whites, as well. And now is the perfect time you find out about them.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the white wine you have most probably disregarded for too long.
White wines were yielded and grown in Bordeaux in the 17th century and delivered to Holland, wherein they’d be made into Dutch spirits and liquors. For sure, you already know as a wine enthusiast that Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted and most popular white grape variety across the world.
However, did you know that it is said to have its roots in Bordeaux? Also, it may interest you to learn that this white grape variety is older compared to Cabernet Sauvignon. Over the centuries, as production processes keep on improving, less of the Sauvignon Blanc was being utilized for bulk exports.
And in 1860, before the phylloxera crisis, when most of the vineyards in Europe were almost wiped out, it was pretty common for many wineries to be crafting or making different varieties of white grapes. As a matter of fact, most of them had no knowledge of which grapes were used. Even so, the resulting product tasted excellent, and that was most important of all.
Similar to other continents, Europe’s wine empire was rebuilt and brought back to life after the crisis. Even better, they bounced back with not just a wider variety of grapes, but more resistant, stronger vines.
Moreover, in the 1950s, white Bordeaux wines were picking up steam, with an astounding 60% of all vineyards planted with Sauvignon Blanc. However, as they’d say, trends come and go.
Due to the horrific frosts and economic crisis in 1956, the region removed these vines and replaced them for multiple red varieties that would be more resistant and affordable. And from that moment on, there has been a constant collapse, and at present only 9% of the vines are white.
Although you may see it as negative, it is undoubtedly not. The remaining wine producers have been forced to put quality first with at least 71% of white vines being small plots of about 4.6 hectares. It means that it takes a lot of hard work per vineyard and less equipment. Also, according to some of the best wine ratings website, white Bordeaux has constant high ratings, which proves how valuable they are.
Grape Varieties Breakdown
What does white Bordeaux wine seem like in bottles? Well, over 62 million bottles per year, wherein roughly 22 million are traded internationally, specifically in the UK and US. Here is what the grape varieties look like and what they mean:
- Sauvignon Gris: 4%
- Muscadelle: 7%
- Semillon: 31%
- Sauvignon Blanc: 54%
- Others: 4%
As you can see, Sauvignon Blanc dominates, which comes to no surprise. However, it is the Muscadelle and Semillon, making up 38% that enables Bordeaux to produce extraordinary personality and flavor profiles within their white wines.
Is it possible to produce whites as exuberant and rich as Burgundy, or as lively and pleasing as Italian Pinot Grigio? For sure, you’d ask yourself just that. Well, for the most part, it all boils down to mixing something the wine producers in Bordeaux know.
Best White Bordeaux
If you are looking for something rich and creamy, then Pessac-Leognan is for you. These dry white wines are produced from Semillon grapes, providing them a very generous and rich structure. Also, these wines are bursting with butter flavors and rich baked fruit flavors similar to Burgundy’s whites, yet at a more affordable price.
On the other hand, for Pinot Grigio and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc enthusiasts, choose Entre Deux Mers. The wines here are fruity and crisp and are good to be enjoyed now. These wines are fruit-forward, full of green and tropical fruits.
How would you know if you would like these wines? Well, the key here is to watch out for the grape variety. If it’s Semillon driven, then it has almost all the characteristics of a Burgundy wine. But if it’s Sauvignon Blanc driven, then it would make you remember those Italian Pinot Grigio or NZ Sauvignon Blanc.
White Bordeaux undoubtedly has lots of history within, of which you might know now. There is both an extensive quality and amazing story. Whether you want to impress your date or have a glass of wine to relax, white Bordeaux is surely worthy of your money and time.