Don’t Blanc Bordeaux Whites

I’m by far not the first and most definitely will not be the last bacchanalian commentator to rail at wine consumers for their ignorance of the glories to be found in a bottle of Bordeaux Blanc.

Just picture the hordes of dry white junkies up and down the country pulling corks and wrenching screw caps, then guzzling the contents as they squint down at labels smeared with names like Marlborough or Sancerre. All the while totally oblivious that of Bordeaux’s two heavyweight white grapes Sauvignon Blanc is one.

Yes, there’s plenty of Semillon about (less Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris) and some producers like to chuck it in oak to add body, texture and depth. But that formula of razor sharp acidity, cracking citrus, crunchy minerality and fabulous food friendliness apply to so many.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 18.39.01I first came to love BB about 3.5 years ago while celebrating with my girlfriend (now Mrs DnE) at the Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair. On the recommendation of the sommelier, I ordered a glass of Clos Floridene 2008 from Graves to pair with my haut cuisine chicken dish. The match was tremendous and the wine? Near perfect. So smitten with it, I marched straight out and bought six bottles of the 2010, of which I still possess two (Berry Brothers & Rudd are currently stocking the 2011).

As if being wonderfully complex and a superb food wine wasn’t enough, good Bordeaux Blanc can also age incredibly well. Yet another reason to discover some for yourself.

Good BB is also exactly the kind of wine you want to bring along to your wine geek friends dinner parties. Makes you look like you very much are in the know.

If you are a regular reader/watcher of my blogs/vlogs then you’ll know that I am a big fan of the Wine Society and they deserve much applause for stocking a stellar range of BBs.

I recently tasted a few and here’s a run down.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 18.43.36Bel Air Perponcher Reserve Bordeaux Blanc 2014

Fresh tart lime, crunchy green apple, bold acids. Some creamy apricot on the finish. Tart green machine. 86/100 – £8.50

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 18.43.27Chateau Martinon Entre-de-Mers 2014 

Jazzy lime, firecracker smoke, fresh gooseberry, gum clenching acidity, fine green apple. Very classy and super value. 89/100 – £7.50, but sadly at writing was out of stock.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 18.43.47Chateau Reynon 2013 

Viscous yellow, nose of flint, yellow melon, grassy herbs and waxy pear. Quite smoky, raw Bramley apple, chewy acids, electric acidity, searing lime juice, vibrant, pure, focused mineral and long razor sharp finish. Just got better and better in the glass. Scrumptious. 91/100 – £10.50 ps Same owners as Clos Floridene but almost a 1/3 of the price of CF. 

To avoid showing too much favoritism or if you don’t do the Wine Society then here’s some other options to consider.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Bordeaux Blanc  – Medal winning on currently on offer at £6.00

Aldi’s Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc – Another medal winner and a snip at £4.99

Dourthe Reserve & La Grande Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc –  A bigger brand but both are well regarded. Reserve from Majestic £7.49 (buy six mix) and GC from Waitrose £8.99

M&S Bordeaux AC Sauvignon Blanc £8.50

Despite the winter coming on, it’s a dynamite wine for the festive period. As an aperitif, seafood platters, tangy cheeses, and the Chateau Reynon killed with Mrs. DnE’s roast chicken last weekend.

So what are you waiting for? Till some pillar of the wine writing establishment cracks under the strain of trying to turn the general public onto this most underrated yet splendid value fine white wine and chains themselves to a stand of NZ Sauvignon Blanc at your local Waitrose? Spare them from such a shameful fall from grace and pick up a bottle or two.

It’s a win win win. You’ll be expanding your wine horizons, supporting the underappreciated producers of white Bordeaux and maybe just maybe saving someone’s career.

Two Majestic Spring Whites

There was a bit of a false start a few weeks back, but upon arriving back in London yesterday after a lovely Easter weekend in the North East it felt like spring had sincerely come. To celebrate, I thought I would recommend a couple superb white wines that I recently tasted from Majestic.

Majestic Wine despite increasing online competition continues to do an excellent job providing good wines at fair prices. We got a a blindingly good Cremant de Loire for a our wedding

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 16.16.24The first was from excellent Kiwi producer Marisco Vineyards. I was introduced to this Malborough superstar at a Majestic tasting a few years back and liked their Kings Thorn Pinot Gris so much I matched it with some fish and chips in a video tasting. Many people may know them for producing the good value The Ned range, especially the Sauvignon Blanc.

But this time round it was one of their chardonnay’s, specifically The Kings Legacy 2011 that had me impressed. This £14.99 wine comes from grapes at two sites (older vineyards from the Wairau and younger from Brancott) and is aged on the lees (yeast) for ten months in French oak with the help of mostly wild yeasts.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 16.09.41What comes out is top class and has a purity that I would expect of a Grand Cru Chablis. Crisp green apple, richer hints of stone fruit and some richer nuttiness. But super clean, balanced and defined. Mrs. DnE and I had it with a pork loin with an apple celery brandy and mustard sauce to mark our six month anniversary. The combination was superb and if any wants the recipe for the pork post a comment and I will try to recall what I did to make it so tasty.

The second wine was nothing short of a revelation and it was a Muscadet.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 16.10.09Now I know what you are thinking but this ain’t no ho-hum wallflower of the Loire. Partially aged in oak and given some time to mature Muscadet Le Pallet 2009 blew my flipping doors off. Produced by Les Dix du Pallet, which ironically is a co-op of 10 growers based in Le Pallet, a ‘cru’ village in the southeast between those famous rivers Sevre and Maine.

The nose gave off whiffs of french patisserie; baked and biscuity. But then there was tropical pineapple, ripe white melon, fragrant buttercup, toasted almond and waxy lemon. 

My first sip seemed to set in motion some sort of sensory Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I was zapped by laser guided mango, pummeled by popping passionfruit, my breath frosted by mineral crispness, stung by slivers of cedar, needled by hints of pine and then finally warmed with a sensual spicy lick of white pepper. The finale was a bit of a nod to Diana Rigg, but the wine was sublime while that installment of 007 was merely sub. 

I was spent. What a tremendous wine and on at for an amazing £9.99 right now. 

If you won’t take my word on these two bottles being real beauties then take perhaps Decanter might sway you. Both won gold and the regional trophy in 2014 at their prestigious yearly wine awards.

Kings Legacy 2011

Le Pallet 2009

Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Reserva Carmenere 2009

Before I talk about this particular wine, I thought I would share a little history about the grape that it’s made from…

Carmenere is an old Bordeaux variety from the Cabernet family and was until rather recently thought to be extinct. However, in 1994 through the miracle of science, it was found thriving in Chile alongside the rather similar Merlot (the two were often picked and processed together). Today little exists in France and is grown in small amounts in Italy but in it’s adopted home of Chile, that this full bodied red grape has truly come into its own.

I interviewed Mario Pablo Silva (the head of Vina Casa Silva) some years ago but sadly due to circumstances beyond my control the video never saw the light of day. I hope this review goes some way to atoning for that.

This Casa Silva single vineyard Carmenere comes from the Colchagua Valley and more specifically the Los Lingues plots.

Here’s my tasting notes:

To the eye it’s a rich textured crimson (Carmenere gets its name from carmin, the French word for crimson). With the nose of tobacco, green pepper, mocha, cassis and wild mushroom you can see why it was mistaken for Merlot (Chile) and Cabernet Franc (Italy). At 14% AVB you might expect a shot in the mouth but it’s velvety and sensual with notes of smoky charcoal, black fruit, menthol and white pepper.

An excellent example of how very special that lost and found Carmenere can be in the right hands.

Score – 8.25/10

Food matches – We had it with BBQ ribs and salads in the garden and it was sen-bloody-sational.

 

Christmas Budget Wines

Picked up 4 wines all under £10 from Oddbins: Torre Oria Cava Brut Reserva, Morrisons: Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Majestic: Chateau Lachesnaye Cru Bourgeois and M&S: Dry Old Oloroso Sherry that are sure to please.