Featured Wine Grape: Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc


Spring time, and a wine-drinker’s fancy turns to Sauvignon Blanc. What better combination in life is there than a warm weekend evening and a cold glass of nature’s most refreshing and instantly rewarding of fermented grapes? In springs past, I’ve answered the call of the classically green and grassy Sauvignon Blancs of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume in the Loire, the tangy and tropical upstarts from New Zealand, and the creamy, solid modern marvels of California. But I’ve always shied away from the white wines of Bordeaux, which tend to blend Sauvignon Blanc in varying proportions with Semillon, because…

…Well, why? That’s what I’m asking myself after taking a store owner’s advice and buying up this bottle of predominantly Sauvignon Blanc from nothing more fancy than the wide-ranging appellation of generic Bordeaux. At first, the $13 price tag seemed more than I should have been paying for something so apparently nondescript, but when I spun the bottle to reveal importer Neal Rosenthal’s personal guarantee of quality on its back side, that was enough to bring this baby home with me.

Bordeaux blanc. With Neal Rosenthal’s seal of quality on its backside, this is a Sauvignon Blanc-dominated wine to enjoy now.

As with almost all Bordeaux wines, there’s no info on the label confirming the varietal breakdown: I had only the store owner’s word to go on that this was almost exclusively Sauvignon Blanc over Semillon. Well, that and the taste, of course: while the nose was more muted than I’m used to from a Sancerre, in the mouth the wine snapped immediately to attention, its deliciously delicate acidic lemon flavor revealing itself as indisputably Sauvignon Blanc, though without the gooseberry-asparagus notes of the Loire, or those pineapples and mangos that waft up from down under. No, this wine was almost all citrus, but with just enough mineral body to confirm that there was some of Bordeaux’ other white grape, Semillon, holding it up.

The combination was infectious. We served it as an aperitif, drank it as an accompaniment to a zucchini/broccoli/pasta dinner, and paired it with fresh goat cheese afterwards; it was a miracle we still had a glass left between us for the following evening. Perhaps most reassuringly, after a relatively disappointing introduction to the French whites of the 2004 vintage, some of which seem just as clunky as the almost undrinkable heavyweights from the previous year’s heatwave, this Château La Caussade had the crisp acidity I always look for from an inexpensive young wine and gave me renewed hope for European 2004s. The white wines of Bordeaux may hide in the shadow of their more illustrious red big brothers, but when you find one as delightful is this, it’s time to bring it into the (lemon and) limelight.

MUSIC: Snap to attention. It’s spring, you’re feeling romantic and you’re in a rush. They prefer champagne, but you can drink this Bordeaux blanc while enjoying the new Buzzcocks album Flat Pack Philosophy.

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December 2021