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Bordeaux Blend White

White Bordeaux Blend refers to the grape varieties from which white A.O.C. Bordeaux wine is produced. There are four main varieties, namely Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris, as well as a few less widely grown ones. This last group comprises such rarities as Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Ondenc, Folle Blanche (a.k.a Picpoul) and Merlot Blanc. Just as with the Bordeaux red blend wines made within the appellation regulations may be made from any one or more of these although the most commonly utilised are Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Unlike red Bordeaux the white wines of the area may be sweet, moelleux (semi-sweet) or completely dry and crisp. Traditionally much of the region's white grapes, representing barely 10% of the total area under vine, was used to produce the semi-sweet style. Since the second world war however the trend has increasingly been for a drier style except in the dessert wine producing appellations such as Sauternes and Barsac although even here many estates produce a dry white wine as well as a sweet one such as "R de Rieussec" from the famous Sauternes property.

ripe sauvignon blanc grapes bordeaux

White Bordeaux Grapes

There are many estates in the appellations of Graves and Pessac-Leognan which produce dry white Bordeaux wines and even some properties in Sauternes do so using grapes from the very same vines that yield the exquisitely Botrytis-shrivelled grapes used for dessert wine production. Some of the Médoc's most prestigious properties also produce a dry white wine under the appellation of Bordeaux Blanc A.O.C. Château Mouton-Rothschild (Aile d'Argent) as well as the Châteaux Haut-Brion, Smith Haut Lafitte, Margaux, Lynch-Bages and Cos d'Estournel all produce very highly regarded dry white wines predominantly from Sauvignon Blanc grapes but there are also many more. Outside of the top districts a lot of dry, white, Sauvignon Blanc-based wine is produced in the Entre Deux Mers appellation, the area between the rivers Dordogne and Garonne.

Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc grape variety is prized by wine-drinkers for its freshness, herbaceous quality, tropical and citrus fruit flavours and a piercing acidity as well as its food-friendly ability to pair with a wide range of dishes be it sea food, cheeses or vegetable dishes. For the grower it possesses two remarkable properties which are rather advantageous, namely a late bud-set, thus usually missing late frosts, and an early ripening date. These two qualities remove much jeopardy from the grape-growers' work. Both Bordeaux and the Loire Valley provide excellent environments for this grape variety which prefers a more temperate climate becoming over-ripe and flabby in hotter conditions. Temperature-controlled fermentation in expensively-installed stainless-steel tanks enhances the tropical fruit flavours which have become very popular with drinkers. This trend began with Sauvignon Blancs made in New Zealand but the practice is now fairly widespread these days.

Sémillon

Sémillon is most famous for succumbing to noble rot (Botrytis Cinerea) in the vineyards of Sauternes and Barsac thereby producing one of the world's great dessert wines. It is also a major component of the white Bordeaux blend of grapes. The wine it produces has a rich, almost oily, texture with good fruit (figs, citrus) but is very low in acidity compared with Sauvignon Blanc. For this reason it makes a very good wine for blending with the other Bordeaux Blanc varieties lending a certain depth and texture to the final blend.

Muscadelle

Muscadelle comprises about 7% of the vineyard plantings given over to white grapes in Bordeaux. It is thin-skinned like Sémillon and is therefore also susceptible to noble rot but where this is avoided it is used as a small part of the dry white Bordeaux blend adding a floral perfume and a grapey quality to the mix. It is most commonly used in this guise in the Entre Deux Mers appellation. Despite the sound of its name it has no relation to the Muscat grape.

Sauvignon Gris

Despite bearing a deep pink hue Sauvignon Gris is a white grape variety. It almost disappeared completely following the Phylloxera epidemic towards the end of the 19th. century and now accounts for just 2% of all white grape plantings in the Bordeaux region. It is thought to be a mutation of Sauvignon Blanc and, like that variety, it has a reputation for being an early ripening grape variety. It adds a good amount of body and texture to a wine and it is beginning to catch on as a white variety in Saint Emilion where wines made with it are classed simply as AOC Bordeaux Blanc.

Colombard

The Colombard grape variety is more widely known a bit further to the south in the Cognac region where it is distilled to make the famous brandy. In Bordeaux itself it is used in white wine blends on the right bank in the communes of both Bourg and Blaye where it sometimes plays the lead role adding a pronounced acidity to the final blend.

Ugni Blanc

Just like Colombard the Ugni Blanc grape variety is more widely known and planted in the Cognac region where it is traditionally used in the production of the region's famous brandy. In Bordeaux its use is restricted again to the communes of Bourg and Blaye on the right bank. It has a marked resistance to pests and disease and this could be a possible explanation as to its continued presence close to the estuary. Interestingly Ugni Blanc is originally an Italian grape variety known as Trebbiano.

  1. Baron Rothschild Mouton Cadet, Bordeaux Blanc, 2012

    Baron Rothschild Mouton Cadet, Bordeaux Blanc, 2012

    Mouton Cadet Blanc is a dry white wine from Bordeaux AOC which is a very reasonably priced blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon and 5% Muscadelle grapes made in a lighter, crisp style.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend White
    Country France

    Out of stock

  2. Château Bonnet Blanc, Entre-Deux-Mers, 2012

    Château Bonnet Blanc, Entre-Deux-Mers, 2012

    A blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon and 10% Muscadelle. Delicious dry white wine, good with a wide range of seafood.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend White
    Country France

    Out of stock

  3. Château Martet Blanc, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux, 2011

    Château Martet Blanc, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux, 2011

    This charming dry white wine is characterised by its floral nature, subtle finesse and notes of exotic fruits. For best results drink it young and serve between 9°-12°C.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Sémillon
    Country France

    Out of stock

  4. Château Martet Blanc, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux, 2013

    Château Martet Blanc, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux, 2013

    Bio-dynamically produced white Bordeaux that is 60% Sémillon. Great with seafood.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend White
    Country France

    Out of stock

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