Bordeaux Blanc: the wine equivalent of retro cool!


Every wine lover will be familiar with Bordeaux – the home of Claret. This famous dark red wine from the South West of France, produced in an area centred around the Gironde Estuary and rivers Garonne and Dordogne, is at its best capable of highly complex and elegant aromas and flavours befitting the finest of wines. The renowned sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac also hail from this part of the country, but did you know that about 10% of Bordeaux wine is dry white, of which 50% is sold within France and the rest is exported overseas?

Bordeaux Blanc has been around for a long time. Indeed, way before before the New World, particularly New Zealand in the 1980s, ignited our organoleptic senses with powerful and vibrant interpretations of Sauvignon Blanc, vineyards in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux had been making wine from this particular grape for several centuries.

Today, the main grapes of white Bordeaux are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, supplemented by Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris. Many of the appellations controlées are very well known, including Pessac-Leognan, Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers, in particular. However, there is also a generic Bordeaux Blanc.

There are three main styles of Bordeaux Blanc:-

  1. Light, fruity and aromatic wine suitable as apéritifs and for accompanying light dishes.
  2. Punchier, richer version of the above with an increased gust of flavour from lees ageing.
  3. Oaked (undoubtedly the most renowned of these styles), where the wine has been fermented or aged in barrels to produce an oilier, richer version, which ages beautifully, especially over four to six years.

Additionally, the wine styles can be characterised by 'right bank' – mineral and fresh, or 'left bank' – richer flavours of the Gironde.


Oven baked scallop with chorizo, watermelon and a light coriander dressing

Last September, wine journalist Jane Parkinson led a Bordeaux Blanc and seafood-based street-food matching discussion and tasting in London, in conjunction with Eviva Communications. In her opinion, Bordeaux Blanc is particularly food friendly, especially the increasingly popular oaked Sauvignon Blanc. According to Jane, despite relatively limited production compared to other wine styles, it captures the "zeitgeist of what's currently happening in the wine world", i.e. a desire for more esoteric, but value-for-money wines.


The 2013 vintage produced high acid, fresh wines. They offer excellent value for money and versatility, combining well with Asian, Spanish, classic French and other cuisines. Five wines from this vintage were matched to chef Nicos Popupalot's seafood dishes. The most popular pairing among the attendees was Château du Cros Sauvignon 2013 matched with ginger and lemongrass stir-fried king prawn. The wine, made from a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Sauvignon Gris, had three months of lees ageing, which lends delicate notes of white spice to complement the light, fresh, floral, citrus fruit and mineral character, ensuring a perfect pairing with the aromatic spices in the dish. The wine is available in the UK from Fareham Wine Cellar for just under £10.

In the New York International Wine Competition 2013, Château Bonnet Bordeaux 2012, made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle and Château Smith Haut Lafite Blanc 2004, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Semillon, were both award winners.

So if you're looking for a bit of 'retro cool' in your glass, then look no further than Bordeaux Blanc. Santé!

More information on Bordeaux wines can be found on the Planète Bordeaux website.

This article is also available on The Alcohol Professor website.