With that memory in mind, I recently went to a tasting of the wines of Graves and Pessac-Leognan, a part of Bordeaux, south of the city, that is known for their dry white wines. It produces much more red, nearly 80% of the total, and is famed for its dessert wines, Sauternes and Barsac, but there are a number of good-value white wines made primarily from Sauvignon Blanc often with Semillon and sometimes a bit of Muscadelle. These Sauvignon Blanc-based wines from Bordeaux taste unlike than what is popular here – much less fruit-forward, less assertive, and with more evident acidity and often minerality. The addition of the lemon accents of the Semillon plays a part. The whites of this area come in a range of different styles, which was evident in this recent tasting. The wines at the event ranged from $11 to $35 with most under $20. None of the twenty wines I sampled were great, but most were good and nearly all were enjoyable. Nothing approached the fantastic, complex and elegant Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2015 ($88) that I sampled at Spec’s 2015 Bordeaux in March that both the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator gave scores of 96. A few that I liked included Légende Bordeaux Blanc 2017 ($18), Chateau de Rolland 2017 ($35), Chateau Haut-Reys 2017 ($11), and Chateau Luchy-Halde 2013 ($14).
I asked one of the servers who was from the region how the whites are consumed there, with or as an aperitif. She said that it mostly with food; fish, chicken, veal, sushi were popular partners. Oysters, too. The wines I tasted at the event led me to believe, or confirm my belief, that white Bordeaux, which are almost always medium-bodied at most, works very well, maybe best, for most Americans as an aperitif and with appetizers – like how it was served at that wonderful dinner I had been invited to several years ago. Served chilled, these pair well with the six-plus months of heat and humidity that we have here. But, I have enjoyed these with chicken and fish in the past, too. These white wines of Bordeaux can work well in a number of ways.