The Affordable French White Wine You Probably Don't Know About

The Affordable French White Wine You Probably Don't Know About

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Ariel Knutson
Nov 10, 2016
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

When I think of white wine from France, my mind goes straight to the Loire valley, specifically to the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. These wines are crisp and flinty — just what I'm looking for in a white. The price tag on these wines, however, are often a deterrent.

Which is why I looked to another French wine region. And if you, like me, crave a white that is throughly enjoyable, uniquely accessible, and rarely expensive, you really need to consider it, too. It might just surprise you.

Why It's Time to Consider White Bordeaux

This year I finally learned about the joy that is white Bordeaux. Yes, Bordeaux! You know, that region that has the reputation of producing red wines you're supposed to age for years and years? Yes, that region.

It's true that, compared to red wine production, white wine is quite small, only comprising roughly eight percent of the region's output. But I'm totally smitten. These white wines are the region's unsung heroes. Enough can't be said about what a gem they can be.

They run the gamut from bright and fruity to savory and slightly saline. They can make great aperitifs (especially if you're serving seafood), but they can also have enough oomph to stand up to chicken and — notably! — turkey.

And they are shockingly affordable.

A Brief Introduction to White Bordeaux

White Bordeaux is usually a blend of two grapes: Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Sauvignon Blanc brings those light, fruity notes and bright acidity, while Sémillon offers texture, structure, and minerality. Other grapes like Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris (slightly spicier and with a bit more body than Sauvignon Blanc) make an appearance from time to time as well.

The blend of the two grapes is similar to Sauvignon Blancs from other regions, like Sancerre, but with a notable difference. The addition of sémillon to most of Bordeaux' white blends adds texture. It makes for a more medium-bodied wine. If you typically drink Sauvingon Blanc from the Loire, however, I think the fruitier whites from Bordeaux (i.e., the ones that are predominantly Sauvignon Blanc) will suit you very well.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

What to Look for When Buying White Bordeaux

When buying a white wine from Bordeaux, it's best to consider what (and if) you're eating something with the wine. You can do whatever you want honestly (I won't judge), but a great tip I recently learned is that if your wine is heavy on Sauvignon Blanc, it's better to drink it by itself or for light snacks; if your wine is more Sémillon-heavy, it's better for a meal (like Thanksgiving).

The most-lauded areas of white wine production are Graves and Pessac Leognan, but wines from these regions, as you might expect, cost a little more. Most of the white wine is actually produced in the area known as Entre-Deux-Mers; the wines from Entre-Deux-Mers are considered to be some of the best value white wines in Bordeaux.

Finally, while you might hear a lot about vintage with red wines from Bordeaux, that's not really a consideration with white wines from the region. While some white Bordeaux is better with age, most can (and should) be consumed right away.

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