2014 La Sémillante de Sigalas (Bordeaux Blanc)
by JJ Buckley Fine Wines
Dry white Bordeaux is having a moment, and it’s not all about Pessac-Léognan. The great châteaux of Sauternes are today producing more and more dry white wines, and shrewd buyers are starting to take notice because production is low, quality is high, and prices are great!
The 2014 Sémillante de Sigalas is the 100% Sémillon dry white from Sigalas Rabaud. Collectors of Sauternes will know all about Sigalas Rabaud, the tiny property next to Suduiraut and Yquem. In the hands of dynamic young winemaker Laure de Lambert Compeyrot, the estate is going through a particularly strong patch for its sweet and, increasingly, dry white wines. Consultant oenologists here are Sauternes specialist Henri Boyer and Médoc heavy-hitter Eric Boissenot – who works with Lafite, Latour, Mouton and Margaux, to mention just a few. There’s a serious team in place here, and that extends to La Sémillante de Sigalas.
Sigalas Rabaud is by no means the only Sauternes property to push the production of dry whites. Many of its closest neighbors are doing likewise, including Rayne Vigneau, Suduiraut and Yquem. Per Vinous, “it makes sense for the Sauternes estates to produce dry white wines...since they cannot always count on making a world-class sweet wine; as much depends on the presence of noble rot.” Whether it’s an insurance policy or simply new product development, the advent of dry white Sauternes has led to some great wines. James Suckling says that dry Sauternes can taste “like rich Sauternes without the sweetness”, and the best can compare with “top white dry Bordeaux”.
Despite its generic Bordeaux Blanc appellation, dry white Sauternes like La Sémillante de Sigalas has no shortage of regional identity. Suduiraut’s Christian Seely says that Bordeaux “has a very strong card to play with Sémillon – especially in Sauternes where there’s a lot of it. There’s plenty of Sauvignon Blanc in the world but not much Sémillon.” Sigalas Rabaud’s dry white is single varietal Sémillon and is thus a great example of why the style is increasingly popular.
2014 was a strong year for dry white wine in Bordeaux. Per Antonio Galloni, the wines “are unusually rich and textured, yet also maintain good acidity”, and Vinous reports “a strong vintage for Bordeaux's dry white wines. The 2014s are bright, crisp and beautifully delineated.” Suckling says the 2014 “dry whites show an electrifying acidity with fantastic density”.
The 2014 La Sémillante de Sigalas is a real value alternative to Pessac-Léognan, where the top whites can cost more by the bottle than this does by the case! It’s also a shrewd buy vis-à-vis some of the better-known dry whites from Sauternes, costing around half the price of S de Suduiraut and around 10% that of Ygrec. Snap this up and see what the fuss is about! Cheers!