The red wines of the Bordeaux region of France never have to worry about their white co-stars getting too much applause. The whites are always under-appreciated compared to the big, classic and show-stealing reds, and itís been this way for hundreds of years. But staying out of the limelight has its advantage: price. While there are a handful of Bordeaux whites out there that command outrageous price tags (such the blanc from Haut-Brion), the vast majorities available at your local wine shop are reasonable.
Bordeaux whites are blends of three grapes - Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. Although Muscadelle often plays the most minor role, there are no rules about what percentage a producerís blend must be.
The White Bordeaux Bash will be remembered for two things: 1) Stephen's first ever gold medal finish. Although it was a shared win with Ali, it breaks his unimaginable losing streak. And, 2) Everyone's general lack of enthusiasm for these wines. While the wines were well made and well priced, the majority of tasters were not compelled to finish their glasses.
Andy was indisposed and stayed home, so an alternate taster was brought in. Joyce purchased a white Burgundy for the tasting, but it was still interesting to see how it compared to the Bordeaux. Tasted blind, we had no idea what bottle was the ringer, and Joyce to no surprise was an outstanding alternate taster.
First Place (tie): Chateau Haut Maginet 2004 (Bordeaux). The only wine of the night with the broad Bordeaux appellation, it exhibited a nose reminiscent of grass, lime, honey, gooseberry, green apples and honeydew melon. Kristin noted scents of isopropyl alcohol. Flavors of fresh herbs, apples, lime, grapefruit, lemon, and peaches. Ali felt that it started off "lovely and wet", and then ended dry, like "the Sahara desert". Kristin thought it was "pleasant", and everyone liked the nose far more than the taste. Sarah felt that it "pairs nicely with the meaty olives". Kristin and Sarah's favorite of the tasting. Received 23 points. Stephen's bottle. About $11.
First Place (tie): Chateau Coucheroy 2002 (Pessac-Leognan). Aromas of lime, flowers, ginger and mulling spices. Joyce described a "mock orange" flower scent, while Kristin had a strong anti-Chardonnay reaction to it. Ali suggested that it "smells like a red wine". On the palate, it was slightly buttery, with hay, creamy grapefruit, spices, and a tinny quality. Stephen thought it evoked memories of a creamsicle. Not much oak on the finish. Kristin felt this was made of Chardonnay. At this point, everyone raised their glass, and toasted to Andy. He was missed. This bottle was Ali and Stephen's number one choice of the night. Made of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Semillon. Received 23 points. Ali's bottle. About $15.
Second Place: Chateau Haut Gravier 2002 (Graves). Tasters noted straw, hay, violets, wax and olives on the nose. Ali thought that it "smells like dishwater". Very herbal mid-palate, that also featured limes, tangerines, and nuts. Joyce felt that the texture was "oily", while Sarah felt the palate was too tart. Ali described a "warming finish". Joyce and David's favorite of the tasting, with David noting that it was "intriguing" with a lingering mineral finish. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Received 15 points. Sarah's bottle. About $13.
Third Place: Louis Jadot Meursault 2002. Made of 100% Chardonnay, this bottle did not qualify under the tasting rules, but it was enjoyed enough to get the bronze medal. Exhibited scents of honey roasted peanuts, rubbing alcohol, caramel, vanilla, and a medicinal quality. Sarah noticed "spring foliage". Flavors of caramels, pez candy, vanilla, marshmallows, and brown sugar. Had a cheesy finish, or perhaps like vanilla yogurt. David's least favorite wine. Received 10 points. Joyce's bottle. About $40.
Chateau Bonnet 2002 (Entre-Deux-Mers). With aromas of grapefruit, grass, apples, and hay, tasters felt that it was the most "Sauvignon Blancy". David felt that the nose reminded him of "cold ketchup". Herbal, with green apples, lemon, and lavender flavors. Minerals on the finish. David thought it was "tartly under-ripe". Ali hated it. Composed of 45% Semillon, 45% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Muscadelle. Received 7 points. Kristin's bottle. About $10.
Chateau Graville Lacoste 2003 (Graves). Nose was fuller, and more round, with citrus, grass, pencil shavings, honey and wax. Kristin indicated that it "smells like art supplies", while Ali felt that it "smells like feet". Flavors were earthy, with a chemical/petrol quality. Weird aftertaste. Stephen didn't like it at all, and Ali hated it, saying that it tastes "like pool water". No points. David's bottle. About $12.
Achaval Ferrer Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2000 (Mendoza). This Argentine red exhibited complex aromas of blackberries, leather, dark earth, licorice, cocoa powder, charred oak, and black cherries. Ali suggested "red goodness", and Joyce noted, "smells like a lawn". Smoky, with flavors of cola, tobacco, blackberries, earth, pepper, dark spices and charcoal. Stephen thought it was "a steakhouse red". Clearly needing more time to breathe, it opened up in the glass and was more expressive near its end. From David's cellar. About $50.
Paringa Shiraz "Individual Vineyard" 2002 (South Australia). As usual by this point in the night, our palates were worn out. Still, we noted earth, mushrooms, cherries, blackberries, vanilla and raspberries. Alcohol showed a bit too much. Ali guessed that it could have been an Amarone. From David's cellar. About $11.