Bordeaux’s track record precedes it. One doesn’t have to necessarily be a “wine geek” to understand that the region skirting France’s southwest coast produces some of the world’s finest and most costly white wines– an accomplishment which has resulted in the presumption that Bordeaux white wines are only worth drinking if they cost leading dollar.
The wine region sprawls from the city of Bordeaux to flank the Gironde estuary, which spills into the Atlantic Ocean while splitting into the Garonne and Dordogne rivers on the opposite end, with vines comprising the landscapes surrounding both waterways.
In addition to red wine and cabernet blends, Bordeaux is also known for sweet white wines made mainly from sémillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle grapes contaminated with Botrytis cinerea, a fungus understood more familiarly as noble rot. A trifecta of early morning mist increasing from the Garonne, appropriate rains and warm afternoons promotes simply the right amount of humidity for the fungi to thrive.
Instead of damaging the grapes, worthy rot dries the fruit, triggering the pulp to concentrate. The painstaking harvest process includes hand-picking the grapes throughout numerous weeks, which are then pressed into complex golden white wines showing bright, enveloping flavors like citrus, stone fruit, raisins, honey and candied fruit, in addition to spices like saffron and toasted nuts in the long-aged versions.
The early morning mist rising off the Garonne River– Photo courtesy of Sweet Bordeaux
A bottle of Sauternes, Bordeaux’s best-known sweet white wine appellation, can exceed $500. Subsequently, its prestige eclipses the region’s other sweet red wines, most significantly those from 8 neighboring appellations located around 20 miles south of Bordeaux city, along both sides of the Garonne. As members of the Sugary food Bordeaux association, 350-plus manufacturers cultivate 1,800 hectares of vines to produce nine million bottles every year, of which 38% are exported.
These white wines use comparable quality at significantly more available costs, and when it concerns combine these red wines with food, wine makers agree that the sweet wines are not just for dessert. Unsurprisingly, sweet plus sweet can, at times, yield an all-too-cloying coupling. Yet, there’s relatively something alchemical in how the sweet wines and mouthwatering foods temper and improve each other.
“Traditionally, these white wines are associated with being served alongside foie gras (which we’ve provided for centuries), dessert and for unique holiday meals, however there are other ways to enjoy them,” states Hugues Hardy, who has actually supervised Château Faugas, his household’s winery, considering that 2020. “I truly think our sweet gewurztraminers are far more intricate [than others], and they can even be more complex than a splendid red.”
He discusses that the sweet red wines have the potential to age for as much as 40 years and that opened bottles can keep for up two weeks in the fridge. He recommends trying the white wines at room temperature level, which proclaims their complex flavors, and he’s particularly fond of pairing the wine with Asian foods like Thai. On the dessert pairing front, Black Forest cake is one of the best ways to go.
Noble rot beginning to settle in on a lot of grapes– Photo thanks to Sugary food Bordeaux
In 2006, Youmna and Tony Asseily acquired their retirement job: Château Biac, an estate neglecting the Garonne River that dates back to the 18th century. They delegated Christine Sourdes, the very first female to own an enology lab in Sauternes, to craft their Secret de Château Biac sweet red wine, which New York’s Eleven Madison Park and the Musket Space offer by the glass.
At home, the Asseilys will uncork a bottle together with meals motivated by their native Lebanon, Ms. Asseily’s smoked haddock soufflé with curry sauce and, during autumn and winter, butternut squash soup with ginger and apple. If taking the sweet path, Ms. Asseily recommends matching the white wine with key lime pie, orange tart or crêpes suzette.
Sandrine Darriet-Froléon, managing director of Vignobles Darriet, which produces sweet wines under the Château Dauphiné-Rondillon label, thinks in combining the red wines with umami-rich meals, such as those that characterize Japanese food.
The sweet golden wine of Bordeaux– Photo courtesy of Sweet Bordeaux
Sweet wine and oysters are a timeless pairing, and while cheese may look like an obvious one, there are some elements to remember, “With all the sugar, it’s not good to pair the wine with cheese that’s too creamy,” says Jonathan Ducourt of Vignobles Ducourt, a wine making household since 1858. Blue and goat cheeses are constantly a win, as is Mimolette, a hard, bright-orange cow milk cheese, and Époisses, a soft, aromatic cow milk cheese.
In addition, a brand-new generation of young wine makers, including Hardy mentioned above, are rejuvenating the area and red wines. Nea Berglund has supervised Château Carsin, which her household acquired in 1990, given that 2015 and has considering that converted the estate to fully natural. Pauline Lapierre’s family has actually owned Château Haut-Rian for over thirty years, and in 2018, she bought their next-door neighbor’s organic land plot, which she utilizes to make her own white wine under the estate’s label. In addition, she and her family objective to have a fully natural vineyard by 2024.
Arthur Fournier’s household obtained the abandoned Château de Birot in 1989. They implemented a 10-year renovation and replanted the vines, and he’s been the general manager since 2014. Charles and Clémence Medeville are the 8th generation at Château Fayau, Mathieu Delong is the fifth generation to handle Château Majoureau, and Guillaume Gonfrier is the 3rd generation of Vignobles Gonfrier, among the area’s most prolific wine-producing families.
Vines versus the background of the Garonne River– Image thanks to Sugary food Bordeaux
Recently, another trend from the days of yore has actually reemerged: sweet white wine cocktails. “They were popular in the 1920s and the 1970s, and they’re picking up now,” states Hardy. He recommends putting the wine over crushed ice with some lime, while Berglund, who likewise makes organic Cadillac tonic, offers Sweet Bordeaux and Tonic packages.
Other sweet wine manufacturers of note include Château Laurette in Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Château de Cérons in Cérons, Château Lamothe de Haux in Cadillac, which produces sweet white wine under the Château Manos label, and Château du Cros in Loupiac, owned by Catherine Boyer, among the area’s most vibrant females winemakers.
“Up up until the last century, individuals utilized to take in these wines at every meal,” concludes Hardy. “We’re starting to show the world a different side of Bordeaux. The red wines are not pricey, and they belong of our future.” And Sweet Bordeaux’s future appearances golden indeed.