Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion released an exceptional, classically blended White Bordeaux for 2015.

Pavilion Blanc du Chateau Margaux 2015 was one of the more "tropical" offerings during Primeurs.

Each year at Primeurs, the White Bordeaux are tucked among their powerful, broad-shouldered, red brothers. Typically, these delicate beauties are enjoyed by those predisposed to their elegant, flowery charms and not so much by the public at large.This year, however, the White Ladies got serious notice.

A lack of rain and a particularly warm summer created ripe, full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon berries – thus creating more apricot and tropical fruit flavors in the White Bordeaux. Some felt the change was antithetical to the traditional White Bordeaux style and unpleasant. Others were rapturous over the distinctly tropical style.

One negociant compared the 2015’s to Pamela Anderson, remarking that he much preferred the traditional Catherine Deneuve-style of previous years. Regardless of the controversy, it was refreshing to hear discussion of the White Bordeaux. A few of the standouts are listed below.

First, in the Medoc:

Enthusiastic crowds at Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

Enthusiastic crowds at Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux: The Chateau announced last year that it is considering upgrading their 100% Sauvignon Blanc to first level and renaming it Chateau Margaux Blanc. However, nothing regarding that promotion has come out thus far. The nose for the 2015 is all buttery almonds. The taste is like a mouthful of lemon chiffon pie. A flavor profile that had some delighted, while others were looking to gargle.

Mouton Rothschild’s Aile d’Argent is also characterized by citrus aromas. The oak enhanced flavor is rich in pineapple and pear.  The blend is 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 43% Semillon and 2% Muscadelle.

Cos d’Estournel began producing its highly-regarded white in 2005. For 2015, the house produced one more barrel than has been available in previous vintages. Also characterized by citrus aromas, the nose for this release is pineapple with a lemony kick – distinctly different from the more delicate acacia fragrances of past years. The blend of 75% Sauvignon and 25% Semillon is full-bodied and oak soaked for six months.

Blanc de Lynch-Bages is cultivated on the cool soils of Saint-Sauver. According to the Chateau: “Growth was at first explosive due to a number of rainy episodes, before then slowing down as a result of increasingly dry and stressful conditions.” The nose is grapefruit and kiwi and some floral notes, with balanced acidity mid-palate. The blend is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Semillon and 17% Muscadelle.

Now in Pessac-Leognan:

Always revered for their production of whites, Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion again released memorable vintages. Haut-Brion, blended with 69% Sauvignon Blanc and 31% Semillon, was citrus with pineapple tones and a buttery, oaked finish. La Mission Haut-Brion, which was blended in exactly opposite proportions – 33% Sauvignon Blanc and 67% Semillon – was much lighter bodied. The La Mission nose offered a slight orange tang with the more traditional acacia flowers. The taste was clean, classic and resembled traditional Bordeaux Blanc more than any other blend from a major house. Noteworthy too is that Catherine Deneuve and Pamela Anderson appear in the same Domaine!

Marla Norman at recent tastings.

Marla Norman at recent tastings.

Estate dinner at Chateau Haut-Brion

Estate dinner at Chateau Haut-Brion

Other standout whites in the Pessac-Leognan appellation include Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere, whose 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillion enjoyed perfectly uniform ripening in 2015. The property is under the expert guidance of Michel Roland.

Meanwhile, Chateau Carbonnieux, offering a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon, benefitted from cool nights in August, which provided good acidity, structure and aromatic balance.

Domaine de Chevalier produced a Sauvignon Blanc (70%) rich in freshness and aromatic taste, while the Semillon (30%) is loaded with purity and concentration. Finally, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte’s blend of  90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillion and 5% Sauvignon Gris, is another superb vintage boasting of not only great concentration in complexity with spicy notes, but also very elegant aromas of white fruit.

There’s no doubt the 2015 vintage was outstanding for White Bordeaux, but there was also broad disparity in style and aromas. At the end, my suggestion is to save a bottle of 2012 Cos d’Estournel – a glorious example of traditional Bordeaux Blanc – to sample with a 2015 and decide…or just simply enjoy the difference.


First 2015 Bordeaux Offers

2015 Bordeaux futures are starting to be offered and both ratings and prices are encouraging: quality is there and prices are staying honest.

Best values ( quality to price ratio ) so far:


Chateau Peyrabon, Ht Medoc, 92-94WE $11.99 per b

Chateau Paloumey, Ht Medoc, 92-94WE $12.99 per b

Chateau Ht Bergey, Pessac, JS92-93 $19.99 per b

Chateau Ferran, Pessac, JS $13.39 per b

Chateau Ht Brisson, St Emilion Gd Cru, JS94-95, $19.99 per b

And my favorite of the group Chateau Charmail, Ht Medoc…$15.49 per b


Chateau Ferran, Pessac, JS92-93, $13.39 per b

Chateau Ht Bergey Blanc, Pessac , JS92-93, $24.99 per b

Delivery of these and other 2015s will be from Fall / Winter 2017 to Spring 2018