On the surface, Bordeaux doesn't look like a white wine hotspot. Afterall, you'll find red wines make up 85% of what's planted here. However, Bordeaux quietly produces some of the most coveted white wines on the planet. You deserve to know more about them.
Let's learn the grape varieties and styles of white Bordeaux – Bordeaux Blanc,– and explore the wines from the producers themselves!
What Grape Varieties Are in White Bordeaux?
More often than not, Bordeaux blanc is a blend of grapes. But only certain grape varieties are allowed in the Bordeaux blend.
Sauvignon Blanc – A major grape in white Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc adds zesty, "green" fruit flavors and a mouth filling mid-palate to blends as well as a tingly finish.
Sémillon – The other primary grape in white Bordeaux, Sémillon adds apple and beeswax-like flavors with a rich, full-bodied palate.
Sauvignon Gris – Although quite rare in Bordeaux, this "gray" (partially red) variant of Sauvignon Blanc is very high quality and allowed to be used dominantly in Bordeaux blanc.
Muscadelle – A minor blending grape (no more than 30% of the blend) with lean, citrus and white flower aromas and subtle grapefruit-like bitterness.
The remaining grapes allowed in white Bordeaux may only be used in up to 30% of the blend. These grapes include Ugni Blanc, Merlot Blanc, and Colombard. Finally, Mauzac is allowed in the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation.
What Does White Bordeaux Taste Like?
There are three styles of white Bordeaux:
- Dry, light and fruity
- Dry, rich and creamy
- Golden-colored, rich and sweet
Dry, Light and Fruity
This is the most readily available style of White Bordeaux. Expect big flavors and aromas of citrus, grapefruit, lemon, gooseberry and lime along with grass, freshly-wet concrete, honey, passionfruit and honeysuckle flowers.
You'll find this style labeled as Bordeaux. You can also find examples labeled from the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation– this is an important spot for white wine in Bordeaux!
Dry, Rich and Textured
This is the most sought-after style of white Bordeaux. These wines pick a dominant grape, choosing either Sémillon with more richness and oily textures or Sauvignon Blanc for it's lighted style with grapefruit-like bitterness and long minerally finish.
Expect flavors of baked apples and pears, crème brûlée, caramelized grapefruit, orange zest, ginger, figs, lemon butter, and even chamomile.
Look for wines labeled Bordeaux AOC, especially those that say "Grand Vin de Bordeaux" indicating it's the producer's top white wine. You can also find this style in Pessac-Léognan – this is where the famed Château Haut-Brion Blanc is from. (A white wine that sells for over $1000 a bottle!)
Quick tip: In order to achieve the rich style, wineries ferment and age white wines in oak barrels. So, be sure to seek out wines that have this winemaking detail mentioned in their tasting notes.
Golden Colored, Rich and Sweet
The other side of White Bordeaux is sweet and more known to us as Sauternes which is the name of the most revered sweet wine appellation of Bordeaux.
Wines have a rich, oily palate with flavors of honeyed apricot, butterscotch, caramel, coconut, mango, ginger, and even marmalade and citrus themes.