Red or White Monsieur? A Look at White Bordeaux in 2007

by Chuck Hayward

While listening to many producers ramble on about their Red Bordeaux over the week I quickly gathered that the mantra of the 07 Vintage would be the elegance and freshness (aka - extremely light body) of their balanced wines (aka- lacking any sort of finish or character that would seem to at all differentiate one hollow / lean wine from the other). The whites on the other hand told an entirely different story.

It must have been a temporary lapse in the clandestine nature of the Bordelais when Tristian Kressman (Chateau Latour Martillac, Graves) told us in a surprisingly straightforward manner (something uncharacteristic to the Bordelais as I quickly learned) that most reds from the 07 vintage will indeed provide nice early drinking while your 05s are fast asleep in the cellar. The whites on the other hand, he said, ‘were beautifully fresh and focused, showing great mineral character that should allow them to age for many years.

I too suspect that these delicious whites can be stored safely for many years to come. In fact we tried multiple vintages (both red and white) of Latour Martillac, while at Tristain’s home with he and his son Stanislas and it was the whites that really caught my attention. While tasting from barrel, the 2007 Latour Martillac Blanc really stood out… It was simply beautiful - The balance of fruit, minerality, and acidity was sublime. A bottle of 1996 Latour Martillac Blanc (served with slowly cooked Sea Bass), showed what might be in store for the 2007. Elegant yet voluptuous, these whites are focused even in their youth with a streak of bright minerality (plus acidity that can cut through pretty much anything) The white wines in 2007 may prove to be the stars of the vintage.

Other Bordeaux Whites of note were the Pape Clement Blanc (Pessac), Haut Brion Blanc, and Smith Haut Lafite Blanc. These wines all shared in common, a subtle tropical component with a core of citrus fruits. These top performers had long and expressive finishes, boasting high acidity coupled with terrific minerality… Stick these in the cellar for 10+ years

Of the few Sauternes that I tasted I really think 2007 has something special in store for these sweet whites. Many dry wine producers spent the late months of 2007 fighting rot, whereas the folks in Sauternes were welcoming the noble-rot with open arms. Many tasters (myself included) believe the 2007s should rival the classic 2001s in quality and structure. Doisy Daene, Doisy Vedrines, and Chateau de Myrat really stood out. Whereas the La Tour Blanche and Lafaurie Peyraguey were extremely fat, but not quite as well balanced.

(On a side note - While at La Tour Martillac, we had the 2002 Suduiraut for dessert with an airy butter cake complimented by a fried banana in a decadent butter sauce. The acidity of the young Sauternes complimented the buttery dessert brilliantly. Keep an eye on the 2002s they are great Sauternes, which have been overshadowed and often overlooked because of the the stellar 2001 and 2003 Vintages) 2002s are priced very well for their level of quality).