Dry White Bordeaux — the overlooked wine

Since my wife only drinks white wine, I went back to one of my “tried and true” values yesterday, the Charton La Fleur Sauvignon from Schroder and Schyler. This generic white Bordeaux is a classic from a varietal point of view — grassy, citrus fruit, light body, crisp and blanketed by a lovely cover of oak.  And with the 2008 vintage still under $14, it is definitely a value!

Trying this wine again got me thinking that dry white Bordeaux is really a lost soul.  The sweet kind — Sauterne and Barsac — get all kinds of press, and cost an arm and a leg (like their dry red cousins). But the dry whites never get very much focus.

Some of them are still ridiculously expensive; for example, Chateau Margaux makes a white call Pavillon Blanc that sells for more than $100! And a number of others are in the $50+ range.

But there are others under $40 that can represent good value, particularly because of their aging potential.  Usually a mix of both Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, it is not unusual for wines from a good proprietor in a great vintage to evolve and get better for 5+ years (something that is unusual for any kind of white wine!).

Even better for the Chartron La Fleur, in particular, is that it might be the best “generic” wine out there. Usually when you see that word — particularly when it is associated with Bordeaux or Burgundy — it is a warning sign, flashing ‘STAY AWAY”. In an article in Food and Wine this month wine writer Jancis Robinson makes reference to an “under $20 Bordeaux” tasting where all the wines were harsh, green and insipid…pretty much my experience as well.

But not the Chartron, which regardless of the vintage is pretty consistent and a good value.  I can’t say that for all white Bordeaux, but it does give you another option out there!




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