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White Wine Gestalt

Bending the wine rules

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There's nothing wrong with varietals--wines made from just one type of grape. But in parts of France (and the world), blends rule. Bordeaux reds are always a blend, with up to six different grapes. Some add flavor and aroma, while others contribute structure and depth. In the end, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That's true, as well, with Bordeaux whites, in which clean and crisp sauvignon blanc combines with the richer textures of semillon. Here are three great examples from three different regions.

2011 Baron de Rothschild Collection Bordeaux, $16.99

This semillon-dominant blend (60 percent) is an entry level wine from the group that includes the renowned first growth Chateau Lafite--and it shows. The richest of the three, with honeyed melon and peach aromas which are lifted by light citrus and lemon zest, it is well balanced on the palate, with ripe apricot playing against tart melon and lime. This wine is a very good value.

2012 Cadaretta SBS, $22

This family owned winery has ties to Washington agriculture which go back more than 100 years. Their blend of 70 percent sauvignon blanc and 30 percent semillon has a nice, metallic edginess to the nose that's laced with pineapple and candied peach aromas. That pineapple, along with more tropical fruit flavors, comes through on the palate, while semillon adds a little richness to the middle.

2011 Leeuwin Estate Siblings, $21

Back in the '70s, California wine icon Robert Mondavi identified Western Australia's Margaret River region as possessing an ideal terroir for Bordeaux-based grape varieties. This blend of 73 percent sauvignon blanc and 27 percent semillon is a testament to his vision. It's a crisp and refreshing wine with bright citrus aromas colored by lemon zest and mineral. The palate is a lively mix of lemon and lime with an intriguing touch of white cheddar.

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