The unknown Sauvignon Blanc. At least almost.

in Wine by

By Celia Strong

It’s very interesting. As much Sauvignon Blanc as we drink, it is rarely one from the Bordeaux region of western France. 

We know Bordeaux makes red wines, some of them the very best and most expensive in the world. Like Chateau Pétrus: 100 percent Merlot for $700-$800 a bottle. 

For white wines, Bordeaux is known for its sweet, dessert wines. Made from Semillon grapes that are harvested after “botrytis” (a mold that grows on overripe grapes, still on their vines, and reduces the ratio of liquid to sugar so the wines have more sugar) has grown on them. These also can be very expensive; $300 for a half bottle. (Dry and sweet white Bordeaux wines, together, are only about 7 percent of their total production.) 

Sauvignon Blanc, though, is a legal variety in Bordeaux. And, it is used to make dry white wines, both by itself and blended with Semillon and, sometimes, little bits of Muscadelle. (Muscadelle is a totally separate variety, not related at all to Moscato or Muscadet.)  

Because of the soil and climate of Bordeaux,  their dry white wines are different than elsewhere. In fact, there are two styles. 

First is light and fruity with big flavors and aromas  of citrus, grapefruit, lemon, gooseberry, lime, grass, wet concrete, honey, passionfruit and honeysuckle flowers. This style is usually made with a bigger portion of Sauvignon Blanc. 

The other is a rich and creamy style with a more oily texture in your mouth and baked apple and pear, crème brulée, caramelized grapefruit, orange zest, ginger, figs, lemon butter and chamomile aromas and flavors. 

Compared to Sauvignon Blanc wines from around the world, white Bordeaux lean more to citrus and floral, not grassy and herby. They are less tropical and peachy than California, and way less citrusy than New Zealand. The appellation on these wines is Bordeaux Blanc. 

When pairing a white Bordeaux with food, some acidity will work. But, too much will overshadow the wine. Basil, lime, avocado and garlic all do well with these wines. White fishes like halibut and cod, crab and lobster, cream sauces and butter sauces, pesto, arugula salad with lemon and Parmesan, asparagus risotto, sushi with avocado also pair well. (Hungry yet? Or thirsty?)

Our dry white Bordeaux wine is from Chateau Saint-Suplice. The chateau is owned by the Dubergé family. They have produced wines in Bordeaux for 300 years. 

There are 100 acres at the chateau, which is located in a village with the same name in the northern end of the Entre-Deux-Mers region.   

They make mostly red wine, a bit of rosé and their white, Esprit de Saint-Sulpice Bordeaux Blanc, the spirit of Saint-Sulpice. This wine is made from 80 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 20 percent Semillon. The grapes are all sustainably grown. Fermentation is done at a cooler temperature to maintain the wine’s freshness, vivaciousness and natural delicacy. It is dry and full flavored with a minerality and a long finish. Intense aromas and flavors of green grapes, honeysuckle, pineapples and mangos make it delicious. 

So, now we have a new Sauvignon Blanc. New source. New style and flavors. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. It could become your new best friend. For $12.99. Enjoy. 

Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.