White Bordeaux and Burgundy
From Bordeaux comes the legendary (and extremely costly!) Chateau d’ Yquem, while Burgundy is the home of Chablis.
from the districts of:
Graves (dry and sweet wines)
Leading chateaux: Carbonnieux, Girafe, Laville Haut-Brion*, Olivier
Sauternes (producing sweet wines)
Comprise the communes of: Sauternes, Barsac, Bommes, Fargues and Preigna
Leading chateaux: Yquem*, Climens, Coutet, Doisy-Daene, Filhot, Lafaurie- Peyraguey, La Tour Blanche
Entre-Deux-Mers (producing medium quality dry wines)
Cerons (wines between Graves and Sauternes for sweetness)
Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux (producing medium sweet wine)
*=very fine and very costly
Graves whites are of two kinds — dry and sweet. The dry wines are considered to be less dry and clean than — say — a good Chablis, but are, even so, light and agreeable. The most distinguished of them is the Chateau Laville Haut-Brion, very dry and clean with a hint of honey on the ‘nose’; the most popular (and rather less costly) are Chateau Olivier and Chateau Carbonnieux.
Entre-Deux-Mers is the largest wine-producing area of the Gironde Department, covering the land between the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers until they meet to become the Gironde. Wines bearing its name used to be sweet, but since the growers were prevented from sweetening them, they are dry and light, and a favourite accompaniment locally to Arcachon oysters and other sea-food from the Gulf of Gascony. Entre-Deux-Rives is the name of one sweet wine now on the market in Britain — really a more accurate one.
The wines of this area are entitled to ‘Appellation Controlee Bordeaux Superieur’ when their alcoholic strength is not less than 11.5%. The golden colour and the richness of the best of the Sauternes is not matched by a sweet Graves. Chateau Yquem (or d’Yquem), Grand Premier Cru classe Sauternes, is the aristocrat among aristocrats in the realm of extremely costly dessert wines. It is an opulent old-gold colour and has intense, mouth-filling flavour and a rich, heady perfume. The grapes, grown in one of the most perfectly maintained vineyards in the world (it can only be visited by appointment), are picked almost individually at the precise stage known as la pourriture noble (’the noble rot’) — a fungus called Botrytis cinerea, to make Yquem the full, long-living, lusciously sweet Queen of Sauternes. It should be served cool but never iced, and only with fruit or fruit dishes, or as a dessert alternative to Port. Quantities should be small — which is fortunate, since Yquem is extremely costly.
Another Sauternes, a rich dessert wine of real distinction, is Chateau Climens.
from the districts of:
Wine from this area is divided into four categories: (1) Grand cru (the best of all) produced by the following vineyards Vaudesir, Les Preuses, Les Clos, Grenouille, Valmur, Blanchotte, Bourgos (2) Premier cru (3) Chablis (4) Petit Chablis (best drunk young)
Cote de Nuits
Clos Blan de Vougeot, Cote de Beaune
Les Perrieres, Charmes
Le Montrachet*, Batard Montrachet,
Cote Maconnaise (Macon)
Pouilly Fuisse, Macon Blanc
Beaujolais Blanc is very similar to Macon Blanc
* = very fine and very costly Burgundy produces a considerable number of white wines mainly from two regions — Chablis and the Cote de Beaune. The list above gives the names of a few of the many fine wines. The Chablis wines are dry and the better ones are a very delicate pale gold colour, with a greenish tint and a hint of flint in the flavour. Demand for the best is great, so they are in very short supply. But beware: if a bottle is simply labelled Chablis, with no named vineyard, it may simply be acid.
Meursault is the centre for the white wines of the Cote de Beaune, and produces some of the best of all itself. The Appellation may be followed by ‘Premier cru’ or the name of a climat (vineyard), and one of the finest of these is Les Perrieres, which produces a delicate, fragrant and delicious white wine. The best Meursaults are steely-dry (and yet mellow, too, oddly enough), full and high in alcohol (11.5%); their colour is a greenish gold and they have a hint of hazelnuts on the palate. Other great white Burgundies are the firm and flowery Corton-Charlemagne from Aloxe-Corton (the Emperor Charlemagne once owned the vineyards), and Montrachet, which some wine-lovers call the finest white wine in the world, finer even than Chateau Yquem and the great Hocks. A Montrachet 1969, Domaine bottled, may cost as much as six times the price of a Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru, or a Chassagne Montrachet, both of the same year. (The Montrachet vineyards, by the way, lie across the borders of the two villages of Puligny and Chassagne, and either of them may give their name to the aristocrat.)
There are, happily, many reasonable if unpretentious Burgundies to be bought at reasonable prices. Pouilly Fuisse from the Cote Maconnaise is a notable one, pale gold, dry and delicate. And there are, too, the fresh, dry wines called simply Beaujolais Blanc (which should be drunk young) and Macon Blanc.