jamie goode's wine blog

Thursday, January 31, 2008

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.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Paris, France

I'm off to Paris, France (as the Americans like to call it) on Sunday, for the [expensive] Wine Evolution conference. I was originally going to be moderating the closures session, but lo and behold they put me down for the logistics session as well, presumably on the back of a piece I did for the 2005 Harpers Logistics Supplement. Since I found this out I've been swotting up on logistics, which I will soon be a world expert on! I'm more confident about the closures presentation, because I had a run-through of essentially the same one at last week's Wine+ event.

Talking of logistics, I've been following with interest reports in the press about stricken container ship Napoli, which is currently lying a mile off the Devon coast. It has been amusing to see the press talk about wine being looted as people walk off carrying barrels...do they know how much a barrel of wine weighs? And that it has been a long time since wine is shipped in barrel. The barrels in question are actually new ones from Tonnellerie Boutes, destined for South Africa. Bit of a shame to turn 425 barrels into flower tubs. Maybe they could be used to spoof up some English wines.
While in Paris, I've got the best part of a day to explore. I plan to spend it visiting wine shops and wine bars, particularly those with an interest in 'natural wines', of which there are a few.

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