This week our Thursday night tasting at Fine Wines of Stockton was French Sauvignon Blanc. The first thing I thought when I saw the subject was Sancerre. However, none of these wines were from Sancerre or other areas I normally think of for French Sauvignon Blanc. All were from Bordeaux except one which was from Burgundy. That was a surprise to me, I didn’t know there was Sauvignon Blanc in Burgundy. Since George and Gail are in France tasting the 2011 Bordeaux, Craig presented the tasting. He gave us a good education on the whites of Bordeaux and was kind enough to let me copy his notes for inclusion here. The tasting notes are ours but the background information on each wine was provided by Craig.
2010 Mouton Cadet (12.5% alc.) The color is a very light yellow with a floral and citrus nose. Flavors of melon and hay with mineral flavors with plenty of acid and a long finish. This was the favorite wine of the group.
Owned by Baron Phillipe Rothschild of the Rothschild banking dynasty, Mouton Cadet was designated as Rothschild’s “second label” in 1930, and is considered a successful popular priced wine. Mouton Rothschild and Mouton Cadet are legally, two separate entities, and are at opposite ends of the branding scale. A white wine was added to the line in 1970. This white wine is a blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, and 5% Muscadelle.
The 2009 Grand Bateau (12.5% alc.) has a light yellow color. The nose was closed. Flavors of minerals with a bit of vanilla in the background, good acid, though less than the Mouton Cadet. An austere but interesting wine.
Grand Bateau is the sister company of Chateau Beychevelle which took part in and sponsored its creation. This wine is a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon. The grapes are hand picked and following skin-contact maceration 75% of the juice is fermented in oak barrels. The lees are stirred giving the wine more weight and fat. After blending and filtration, bottling happens in late spring following the harvest.
2010 Simonnet Febvre Saint Bris Sauvignon (12.5% alc.) – This wine has a light yellow color with hay on the nose. Flavors of dry hay with a lot of acid. This is a more “characteristic” Savignon Blanc, one which you should find easy to pick out the varietal in a blind tasting.
Saint-Bris is a white wine appellation, created in 2003, in the far north-west of Burgundy. It specifically applies to the area’s crisp, cool climate wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris grape varieties. To qualify for the Saint-Bris appellation, wines must be grown and made within the communes of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, Chitry, Quenne, Irancy and Vincelottes. This white has the distinction of being the only Sauvignon Blanc produced in Burgundy. lt contains 100% Sauvignon Blanc from 25 year old grapes grown in clay and limestone. It is fermented in stainless steel; matured for 6-8 months.
2010 Chateau Bonnet (12% alc.) – A very light yellow color with wet hay on the nose. Grassy, hay flavors with plenty of acid. This wine is very herbaceous and stinky.
Chateau Bonnet lies to the north of the Entre-Deux-Mers, on the clay-chalk slopes of the commune of Grezillac, some 10km south of Saint Emilion. Andre Lurton took over and renovated the 17th century estate and vineyards in 1956. Today, half of Bonnet’s production is devoted to this popular dry white, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (50%), Semillon (40%) and Muscadelle (10%) grapes. Maturation is 4 months in stainless steel on the lees.
2008 Chateau Ferrande (13% alc) – This wine has a medium yellow color with an herbal, minty nose. There are herbaceous, bitter lemon peel and lemon flavors with good acid.
The vineyards are in the heart of Graves, in the Costres Gironde commune, near the Gironde River. They compose 94 hectares (6 of white and 88 of red) The soil is mainly sand and gravel with a surface of large pebbles which promotes drainage and help retain the overnight heat. This wine is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon and was fermented in stainless steel, no oak aging.
2008 Les Charmes-Godard (13.5%) – A medium yellow color, honeysuckle on the nose. Flavors of honey, floral and sweet dried fruit flavors with good acid and a rounder mouth feel. This was the number two favorite wine for the night.
In 1988 Nicholas Thienpont bought Les Charmes Godard, a 16 acre property in Cotes de Francs (the smallest of the Bordeaux appellations) on the slopes of the Gironde. It is the dominance of Semillon (70%) that separates this wine from most whites of Bordeaux. New oak (25%) adds structure to the wine without damaging its fruit character. The wine remains on its lees for up to eight months.
All were pretty good and there were so many individual nuances to each wine you really need to try a selection and see which producer you like the best.