White Bordeaux – My Dry and Sweet Mea Culpa!

Okay, I ‘fess up…there are some Bordeaux that I do like! After last week’s “anti-Bordeaux” blog, I felt the need to come clean and talk about my love of white Bordeaux, both dry and sweet.

First, the dry. They are from the Graves region and are made from a mix of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, bone dry and with varying amounts of oak depending on the style. At their best, they can be full of grassy aromas, citrus fruit like grapefruit, and a lovely coating of vanilla. And, interestingly, they are one of the few white wines that can get better with age.

The price? Well not cheap, especially for the more prestigious wines. But certainly cheaper than their red cousins. And there are still a number in the $20 – $40 range.

The sweet wines of Bordeaux – also from Graves – I also like! They are called Sauternes or Barsacs and made from a mix of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Their sweetness comes from a fungus called botrytis cinerea, or “noble rot”, which attacks the outside skin of the grapes, causing them to shrivel up. That, in turn, concentrates the sugar and creates the sweetness. It’s about the only kind of rotting process I know of where the end result is so good! And they can, literally, last almost forever – the best wines/vintages for 20+ years.

Price here, unfortunately, is little better than with red Bordeaux…except that Sauternes and Barsacs are often offered in half bottles! And you can get a number for $25 – $40 – not cheap, but given you don’t need very much at a dinner party (a couple of ounces is enough per person), it can actually be a reasonable part of your cellar or dinner party.

So if you are going to try Bordeaux, my suggestion is “white rather than red” – it may save you a lot of money, and be more enjoyable as well.



PS Despite my protestations, I noticed that the 2009 red Bordeaux were virtually sold out in two days, even at the exorbitant prices. So much for any influence I have!



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