Western Living Magazine
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If you love Sauvignon Blanc, then this might be your new Holy Grail wine.
White Bordeaux may be the most unheralded great wine in the world. And I’m not talking the sweet stuff—the wines of Sauternes and Barsac for example—that’s on a head-scratching death spiral of consumer indifference, notwithstanding that their cost of productions are astronomical and their real-world prices keep falling (we’ll save this plight for another column).
No, I’m talking about the dry white wine of Bordeaux, made with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and occasionally a small measure of Muscadelle and made famous by such paragons of oenology as Domaine de Chevalier, Fiuezel, Haut Brion and Smith Haut-Lafitte. They stand toe-to-toe with the white wines of Burgundy for ageability, and are much more affordable. That doesn’t mean they’re actually affordable, however. Domaine de Chevalier (for my money, the pound for pound champ of the segment) retails for $225, the more prestigious Haut Brion is an eye-watering $1800. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lower-priced entry points into this hidden world.
Chateau Argadens is that lower-priced entry point. It’s a fine example of what you can get for under $30. It comes from the famed producer and negotiant Maison Sichel (they own Chateau Palmer, among other things) and they must be bringing some sort of economies of scale because it’s tough to believe a classy wine like this is 25% less expensive than Cloudy Bay. The first thing you’ll notice is that, while the telltale Sauvignon Blanc notes are there—lime, grapefruit maybe some underripe mango—there’s also a whole lot more body and quite a rich mouthfeel thanks in part to the addition of 35% Semillon and what I assume is some time spent in oak barrels. So it’s recognizable to a NZ SB fan, but it offers more—including the ability to lay down for many years to watch it evolve.
If you’ve ever tucked into a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and wished there was something more, this might be an interesting diversion (and no, I don’t mean quantity—there’s always more NZ SB). It has much more weight in the mouth and a much rounder flavour profile, while still delivering that telltale bite to the taste buds. So this acts as a good entry into the area. But be warned: if you get the bug, you’re quickly going to outpace your traditional Sauvignon Blanc budget. On the other hand, if you’re a refugee from Burgundy, you’ll enjoy some pleasant savings.
Are you over 18 years of age?