While the reds from this vibrant region have long been some of the world’s most sought-after, Bordeaux’s dry white wines are less well known, but equally delicious. According to the most recent data from the Conseil Interprofessionel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB), dry white Bordeaux wines account for 9% of the region’s wine production and are principally based on three varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.
Sauvignon Blanc is often the primary grape in the Bordeaux white blend, which affords the hospitality industry ample opportunity to showcase and sell this white wine variety. White Bordeaux is likely to appeal to consumers who already know Sauvignon Blanc from countries like New Zealand and want to try another rendition from a classic Sauvignon Blanc-producing region.
Dry white Bordeaux wines come in a variety of styles ranging from vibrant and fruity to more structured and generous. George Miliotes, Master Sommelier and owner of Bar George at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida, points out that there are two main styles of dry white Bordeaux: crisp and clean, tank-fermented versions that are immediately released; and Château bottlings that are often barrel fermented and aged, blended with Sémillon, that are round and rich and can be more expensive.
Miliotes also advises retailers to market and sell white wine from Bordeaux as Sauvignon Blanc to capture consumer interest and to emphasize their differences in flavor and structure from their New World siblings.
Paul Einbund, Owner of San Francisco restaurant The Morris, says that dry white Bordeaux have a unique touch of wood mixed with a Sauvignon Blanc base that adds “some richness, that is custardy but not heavy.” They can be incredibly complex and very age-worthy and are also super food-friendly!
Einbund thinks that consumers will also appreciate tasting older Bordeaux white wines that have evolved with age, a characteristic that makes them stand out among white wines. Adding Bordeaux to by-the-glass programs is a great way to sell more white wine and encourage consumers to try these lovely whites.
Bordeaux reds have been the most sought-after wines for the past 200 years, according to Bobby Stuckey, a Boulder, Colorado-based Master Sommelier and Director of the Frasca Hospitality Group. So, it is high time that the trade showed their support of the region’s dry white wines.
With red Bordeaux being so extraordinarily famous, the whites have been overshadowed by them for way too long, concurs Emily Wines, a Bay Area-based Master Sommelier who is Vice President at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants.
She loves the white wines’ “contrast of custard and cream against the taut acidity and vibrant citrus and tropical flavors” and thinks that it is high time for them to be “promoted in their own right, rather than as the ‘little sister’ to red Bordeaux.” The fact that they are blends is also a benefit given the popularity both red and white blends are experiencing on the market these days.
With more demand, many buyers hope to see and sell more white Bordeaux wines in their markets. There is simply less white Bordeaux out there to go around, says Alex Harner, a buyer for the Napa-based rare wine retailer Benchmark Wine Group.
It’s all good news for wine professionals looking to expand their Bordeaux offerings. Liz Thach, a master of wine and a distinguished professor of wine at Sonoma State University says she loves white Bordeaux. She adds that “consumers are searching for variety and are eager to try to something new.” Bordeaux whites fit the bill!
To learn more about the dry white wines of Bordeaux, watch the webinar:
Dry White Bordeaux: Part I – Navigating Bordeaux’s Best Kept Secret
This webinar is part of the How the Experts Tackle Bordeaux virtual learning series.
Article written by Liza Zimmerman, Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), Wine Writer and Consultant.