Serious, affordable white Bordeaux
I never drink white Bordeaux. Ever. Nor does anyone else. If you want Sauvignon, you go to New Zealand or the Loire. If you want it with a splash of Semillon, you go to Margaret River. What's the point of Sauvignon with an attitude problem? And it's only Americans who try to oak their Sauvignons.
But we know the truth is more complex than this, if we are honest with ourselves. In particular, we realize that white Graves is serious stuff, and that sometimes Sauvignon/Semillon blends from Bordeaux with a bit of barrel fermentation are worthy of our attention: they're serious, ageworthy wines in their own right.
Tonight I sip a white Bordeaux that is both serious and affordable. It's Chateau Beaumont 'Les Pierrieres' 2006 Premieres Cotes de Blaye Blanc, which Lea and Sandeman list for £7.95. Initially, on opening it Fiona and I had divergent opinions. She's highly sensitive to oak, and doesn't like oaked white wines at all - she immediately rejected this as being oaky. I'm clearly an idiot, and didn't get oak at all when I first tried it. Instead, I got a bit of struck match reduction as the defining feature on the nose. But Fiona is right: Beaumont used new oak barrels for this wine. They fermented it in new barrels destined for their red wine program, understanding that by the time fermentation was complete with the white, the red would be ready to press into the already-used barrels.
The combination of oak, reduction and fresh, herb-tinged fruit results in a fairly complex, savoury, expressive white wine that I reckon will improve in bottle for perhaps five to ten years. It's a really interesting wine, in the style of serious white Graves, but it's affordable.