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Bordeaux blanc tops blind tasting

Bordeaux blanc performed best in a blind tasting of “premium” oaked Sauvignon Blancs from around the world held in London last Thursday.

chateau brown
Château Brown’s blanc came top

Taking top spot in the tasting was Château Brown in Bordeaux, closely followed in score by the same region’s Caillou Blanc from Château Talbot, which came in third place, and Château Latour Martillac in fifth.

However, the top five places were not all from Bordeaux, with second place going to South Africa for Reyneke Reserve White from Stellenbosch and fourth place occupied by New Zealand’s Huia Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.

The tasting comprised top-end Sauvignons from Australia, New Zealand, Calfiornia, Chile, Italy and South Africa, as well as Pessac-Léognan and St Julien in Bordeaux – and one wine from Turkey.

All of the wines contained a minimum of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and had been either aged or fermented (or both) in cask, and the majority of wines were from the 2012 and 2013 vintages, although there were four wines from the 2008 harvest.

The tasting was organised by Richard Bampfield MW and Jean-Christophe Mau from Château Brown, and followed previous tastings run by the pair which have focused on “premium” rosé – which you can read more about here.

As many as 35 tasters assessed the bottles blind at the London Cru urban winery, scoring each of the 32 wines out of 20 before submitting their results.

Among the tasters were wine writers such as Jancis Robinson MW, Anthony Rose, Margaret Rand and Robert Joseph, as well as myself.

Following the event, Bampfield gathered reactions from the tasters, which showed that “well-managed” oak treatment created “more exciting and complex wines” than unoaked Sauvignon.

Considering the high-scoring wines, Bampfield pointed out that the top wines were in general fermented as well as aged in oak, while some of the more mature wines scored well, indicating that this is a wine style that certainly has the capacity to improve with age.

One impressive and unexpected find among the top-scoring wines was the Calyptra Grand Reserve from Chile’s Cachapoal Valley, which was my joint first in the tasting, sharing an 18.5 point score with Château Talbot’s Caillou Blanc and Château Lagrange’s Les Arums de Lagrange.

The following page contains the top 10 wines chosen by the panel of tasters, as well as my own.

Wines from Sauvignon tasting
The oaked Sauvignons which featured in the tasting

Top 10 from the tasters:

1 Château Brown, Pessac-Léognan, 2012

2 Reyneke Reserve White, Stellenbosch, 2011

3 Caillou Blanc, Château Talbot, Bordeaux Blanc, 2012

4 Huia Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau Marlborough, 2013

5 Château Latour Martillac, Pessac-Léognan, 2012

6 Greywacke Wild Ferment, Marlborough, 2011

7 Larry Cherubino Pemberton, Western Australia, 2013

8 Lis Neris, Picol, Friuli Isonzo, 2012

9 Astrolabe Taihoa, Kekerengu Marlborough, 2010

10 Calyptra Grand Reserve, Cachapoal Valley, 2010

db’s top 10: 

1= Calyptra Grand Reserve, Cachapoal Valley, 2010

1= Caillou Blanc, Château Talbot Bordeaux Blanc, 2012

1= Les Arums de Lagrange, Château Lagrange Bordeaux Blanc, 2012

2= Château Brown, Pessac-Léognan, 2012

2= Château Latour Martillac, Pessac-Léognan, 2012

2= Cloudy Bay Te Koko, Marlborough, 2011

2= Tokara Directors Reserve, Stellenbosch, 2012

2= Sevilen Fume Blanc 900, Denizli Turkey, 2012

3= Château Carbonnieux, Pessac-Léognan, 2012

3= Terre a Terre, Wrattonbully, 2013

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