Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taste the Value of Bordeaux

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taste the Value of Bordeaux

Article excerpt

Byline: By Helen Savage

It's not only in New Zealand that plantings of Sauvignon Blanc are increasing.

It's making a comeback in Bordeaux, where it was first cultivated.

Dry white Bordeaux is often great value and is (sometimes) every bit as good as its Johnny-come-lately New World competitors. Three grape varieties are grown to make sweet as well as dry wine: as well as Sauvignon Blanc there's SAmillon and Muscadelle.

Most white Bordeaux is usually a blend of Sauvignon and SAmillon, but Cheteau Fantin 2005 rings the changes by sticking to SAmillon with just a dash (5%) of Muscadelle. I think it's terrific: with its smell and bone dry taste of new-mown grass, ripe melon, peach and pear, with a hint of lime and at pounds 6.49 it's excellent value too (from Oddbins).

The very day before I tasted the Fantin, thanks to a very generous friend, I sampled one of Bordeaux's most swanky dry whites ( Pavillon Blanc de Cheteau Margaux 2002. It's made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It was complex, rich and nutty, with vanilla and spice, though not especially fruity and balanced by wonderful mouth-filling acidity ( very different from a New Zealand Sauvignon.

I didn't dare ask what it cost ( but it would have been six or seven times the price of the Fantin. It was certainly a better, finer wine than the Fantin, but emphatically not six or seven times better. If you can only dream of affording the greatest wines, don't lose too much sleep, the difference between a good affordable wine and a great wine that costs the earth isn't as great as you might imagine.

In fact it's perfectly possible to find some fantastic wines made in much the same style, even in classic areas like Bordeaux and Burgundy for not much money at all.

I admit that Bordeaux can be a bit of a minefield. There are just so many wines out there ( from around 10,000 'cheteaux' (though most Bordeaux cheteaux are nothing more than a modest farm house). The whites have improved enormously over the last few years, but I tasted a fantastic red last week that reminded me that wonderful 'claret' can be found in some of the less-fashionable, less-well-known parts of the Bordeaux region. …

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