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Bordeaux 2019: Whites

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

This post is taken from tastings earlier in the year and compiles notes and scores on nearly thirty white wines from the 2019 Bordeaux vintage. There were considerable variations in styles, across a variety of terroirs. The hot and dry conditions were a challenge for some producers. Sometimes the structure and body that a warm vintage can bring is at the expense of aromatic complexity. Picking dates are also important. Harvest needs to be early enough to retain sufficient acidity and freshness. The danger of harvesting a little late is the wines can feel fat, low in acidity and lack focus. At the top level in 2019, I was especially impressed with Château Smith Haut Lafitte, which has produced another knockout white in Léognan. Château Pape Clément also impressed in Pessac. At the other end of the compass [geographically speaking] were impressive whites from Château Cos d’Estournel [Cos blanc and Pagodes de Cos], drawn from fruit adjacent to the Gironde in the Médoc. I also enjoyed Jean-Luc Thunevin’s rich Château Valandraud Blanc from vineyards in St Emilion. These were the absolute highlights of the whites I tasted.

The other picks? In Castillon, Count Stephan von Neipperg has fashioned a racy, saline Le Blanc d’Aiguilhe. This contrasts with a candy and peardrop Pessac-Léognan he produces at Clos Marsalette. The dry whites from Château Suduiraut also impressed. The Blanc Sec de Suduiraut is wonderfully appetising and the broader S de Suduiraut, Vieille Vignes has body and weight. Up the Médoc I really enjoyed Château Loudenne Blanc.

I also had the opportunity to taste quite a few properties in Graves that I don’t usually get to see courtesy of the Grand Cercle organisation. Here Château Crabitey, Clos Floridene and Grand Enclos de Cérons impressed. In Pessac-Léognan, Château de Cruzeau, Château Haut-Lagrange and Château Rochemorin have evidently all made good wines.

There are a few properties where, perhaps for reasons of terroir or the dry vintage conditions, the wines that lack focus and acidity. A few also lacked interest and body. 2019 does not appear to me to be a white wine vintage like 2015, 2016 or 2017, where weight and aromatics were nicely balanced. The 2019 wines are not homogenous in that respect. Having said that, there are also a number of wines that still I haven’t yet had the chance to taste, especially from Pessac-Léognan. Even if it has been difficult for me to draw firm conclusions, I hope you find the notes and thoughts useful.

2019 Bordeaux White

Le Blanc d’Aiguilhe, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Pale silver with hint of grey; racy; quite fine and sleek; mineral with a saline touch; refined pear drop and candy tones; very taut in the nose; really zesty entry to the palate; lovely lees contact; racy; this is a beauty; really zappy and ultra fine. Like this a lot! Lovely zap on the finish. Presumably this is all Sauvignon? [It is]. Really tangy and refreshing. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 44hl/ha, 17 Sept – 18 Sept, 25% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2025. 91-93+

Blanc Sec de Suduiraut, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Pale straw with hints of green; fresh; green apples; quite full and zappy on the palate; very Bordeaux sauvignon; real zip and freshness; very apples; crisp and appetizing; mineral and zappy. Fresh. Not huge body but clean and racy. Length; refreshing. [52% Sémillon, 48% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% aged in oak [23% new], 13% alcohol, 3.8TA]. Tasted June 2020. Drink now till 2024. 90-91+

Clementin de Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Super silver; flecks of green; oyster shell; saline notes; some white flowers; salty tang to the nose; more saline; nice and round on the palate; has length; nice salty tang on the finish. Good and positive. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Sémillon]. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2025. 91-93

Château Cos d’Estournel Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Washed silver/gold; more fresh peach; spices; white melon; some white candy; a beauty; this has more texture to the palate; broader than Pagodes [the extra Sémillon I expect]; weighty; quite grand cru in style; lacks the zap of the very best years perhaps but has power and length; saline on the finish; sweet and sour notes on the end. Fab white. [65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sémillon, 14.4% alc, TA 4, pH 3.15, 8% new oak, 28hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2035. 94-96+

Château Côte Montpezat, Cuvée Compostelle, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Pale straw; fresh; some spice; has zap and freshness. Tasted June 2020. Drink now – 2023. 85-87.

Château Crabitey, Graves, 2019

Brilliant silver gold; grassy; fresh; candy; like this; grapefruit; citrus tones; fresh and zingy; could do with a bit more weight; but has zap and life. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2022. 88-90

Château de Cruzeau, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Vital silver gold; cashew; melon; some citrus zest – appetizing; some candy too; like this; full bodied and spicy on the palate; with candy; full and attractive white wine; combines zap with body; spicy finish. Good effort. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2022. 88-90+

Clos Floridene, Graves, 2019

Pale straw/silver; candy; grapefruit; even lychee hints; feels substantial; full; nice palate; almost salty and saline edge with weight; lovely combination. Bravo – lovely white! Tasted June 2020. Drink now – 2025. 90-92+

Grand Enclos de Cérons, Graves, 2019

Pale silver/green; round and attractive; candy & pear drop; full; zesty but with white melon and guava notes; nicely textured mouthfeel; with some citrus zip on the end; has weight and zip; delightful now! Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2023. 90-91+

Château Haut-Bertinerie, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Straw; full; surprisingly deep; some wax; peaches; broad palate; some barrel ferment notes more obviously; candy notes in the finish. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2023. 86-87

Château Haut-Lagrange, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Straw; more gold than silver; quite broad and full; wax; some white peach; smoky hint; broad palate; has texture and mouthfeel; waxy; will work with food more; had good texture and length too; like this; attractive. Drink now – 2024. 88-90

Château Lesparre, Graves, 2019

Pale straw; full bodied white; ripe; some candy and pear drop; some creamy notes; apple; guava; broad and rich; textured palate which has a creamy mouthfeel; lacks a bit of zip but is forward and appealing. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2023. 87-88

Château Loudenne, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Silver; green; fresh and attractive; salty tang; appetizing and zesty but with body and weight – textured palate but zesty finish. Lovely white Bordeaux Blanc. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2024. 88-90+

Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Palest straw; waxy at first; quite full; some citrus notes behind; like this; whiff of lychee; attractive; little white candy; fuller than the d’Aiguilhe on the nose; pear drops and candy; attractive and full palate; less overtly zesty than d’Aiguilhe but with broader flavours; less lively feels lower in acidity; though there is good race on the finish with some tang. Presumably large chunk of Sémillon here? [Yes]. [53% Sauvignon Blanc, 47% Sémillon, 56 hl/ha, 30% new oak, harvested between 12-14 September]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2028. 90-92+

Château Magrez-Fombrauge, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Silver gold; some white peach; little cashew; quite fat; little lacking in aromatic complexity; full nevertheless; some white peach and honeysuckle hints; initially has lift and life; mid weight palate. From 2 hectare plot in Saint-Christophe des Bardes. [50% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sauvignon Gris, 30% Sémillon]. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2024. 88-91

Pagodes de Cos Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Washed sliver gold; attractive; saline with a hint of lime; intense and deep; this feels serious; mineral entry; very bold and fresh expression; some flint and mineral notes; very tight on the palate; deliciously moreish – now I really need the oysters; really intense with good length. Cracking! More saline and mineral. Lovely. [88% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Sémillon, 14.38% alc, TA 4, pH 3.16 8% new oak, 28hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2025. 91-93+

Château Pape Clément Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Pale straw; silver; fuller aromatically; fresh white melon; little wax; full but also; has some zap and energy on the palate; not the most aromatically interesting but has power and weight; good finish; has length on the end and zap. Actually, pretty saline on the finish. Lovely length. This is powerful Pessac-Léognan white. [46% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, 14% Sauvignon Gris]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2020-2030. 94-96+

Château Penin, Les Cailloux, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Silver straw; ripe aromatics; candy; some citrus; grapefruit zest; spices; some barrel influence; like this; ripe and full; some nice texture to the mouthfeel; has zest; fresh apples; nice weight. Like this. Some lanolin; good body. Tasted June 2020. Drink till 2023. 89-91+

Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Silver straw; white peaches and melon; some wax; lovely and clean; mineral tones to; really attractive; lovely tautness on the palate; nicely balanced with some race but also weight. Feels textured and with good concentration on the end. Moreish white! [80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon, 50% new oak, 32 hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2028. 91-93+

Le Prélat de Pape Clément Blanc, Graves, 2019

Silver gold; brilliant and shiny; some citrus; candied peel; quite full [Sémillon influence]; some dry white characters; appetizing entry with plenty of pleasing acidity and life; not hugely complex; has nice zip. Salty finish. [73% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Sauvignon Gris, 1% Muscadelle]. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2023. 87-89

Grand vin de Reignac, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Pale straw; broad, ripe white Bordeaux; has body and some zest. Texture on the finish. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2020-2022. 86-88

Château Reynon, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Pale straw; silver; apples; some steely notes; lacks aromatics; has some zip but lacks body. Quite neutral and emphasis on the acidity. Fresh. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2023. 85-87

Château de Rochemorin, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Pale straw; spicy aromatics; Chinese sweet and sour notes; some lanolin; grapefruit and citrus; nice entry; candy; has zap; lacks some body and dips a fraction towards the end. Tasted June 2020. Drink now – 2023. 88-90

Château La Rose Perrière, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Pale straw with hint of green; broad aromatics; some cream, candy and white melon with some saline notes; fresh and zesty; has life; lacks a bit of weight; crisp finish. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2023. 86-87

Château de Rouillac, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Pale silver; attractive and vital looking; some grass and summer meadow; salty tang too; feels mineral; fresh palate; good acidity; high by comparison; elegant, zesty and fresh. Moreish on the end as the acidity is retained and there is a good twist at the end. Could have a little more weight though. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2023. 87-89

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Silver straw, brilliant in the glass; little tight to start with; some white melon and floral hints; little apricot; really super composed; full entry; feels substantial on the palate; lovely white this; spot on; has great texture on the palate; real intensity and wonderful length. Saline finish. Super length and breadth on the palate. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 50% new oak, 32 hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2032. 96-97+

S de Suduiraut, Vieille Vignes, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Pale straw with hints of gold; more wax; white melon; passion fruit and lychee; spicy oak; [later bit of grapefruit] oak influenced palate; barrel ferment; masks the palate a little at the moment; more body and contrasts with the zap of the Blanc Sec here; has good length on the palate and moves towards a positively moreish, fresh finish. Needs to integrate but has real potential. Zappy finish. From the oldest vines on the Suduiraut estate on gravelly soils. [63% Sémillon, 37% Sauvignon Blanc, 100% oak aged – 88% one year old, 12% new for 9 months, 13.1% alcohol, 3.8TA]. Tasted June 2020. Drink now to 2025. 91-92+

Château La Tour Carnet, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Silver/Gold; quite sturdy; solid; some wet dog; not that aromatic but bold; has zest and citrus tones on the palate; fizzes for a while on the palate but then dips a little; still has nice weight; young drinking Bordeaux Blanc I’d reckon. Tasted June 2020. Drink now-2024. 88-90

Château Valandraud, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019

Washed silver/gold; oyster shell; citrus; cashew; lychee hints; complex; feels fine and deep; zest and life; full and concentrated; spices; nice weight and some salinity; still has nice acidity; good length and weight on the finish. Works well as usual – weighty but with a twist at the end. Very good length. Fine. Up there with some of the best Pessac whites I reckon. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2028. 93-95+

Virginie de Valandraud Blanc, 2019

Washed silver gold; quite ripe aromatics; bold; big; candy notes; apple; opens up; palate attractive weight and round qualities; good mouth feel; some melon and candy notes. Little short on the finish. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2024. 88-90

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