Monday, April 15, 2013

Le G: The Other Wine of Guiraud

Chateau Guiraud is best known for it's Premier Grand Cru Classe sweet wines and it's gorgeous tree-lined entrance to the property, as pictured below:
(Photo courtesy of Matthew Mantle, taken March 2011 at Chateau Guiraud)
The grapes that Chateau Guiraud uses to make their intoxicatingly aromatic sweet wines are affected by Botrytis, also known as "Noble Rot". In viticulture, Botrytis is a fungal disease that attaches itself to grapes and removes the water in the pulp, leaving behind the sugars. It is caused in Sauternes naturally by foggy, damp mornings in the vineyard that give way to hot summer afternoons, but not all of the grapes end up afflicted with Noble Rot. So what happens to the healthy, ripe grapes that aren't able to be used for their prestigious sweet wine? The healthy grapes are used to make a Bordeaux Blanc Sec (or dry wine) that Chateau Guiraud calls Le G de Guiraud.

White wines made in Bordeaux are constantly overshadowed by their highly esteemed and popular red counterparts-and this trend will continue as long as Bordeaux is a worldwide staple in the red wine market, making some of the most highly sought-after wines in the world. However, producers are working to increase the quality of their white wines by reducing the amount of sulfur they use (used as an antioxidant and an antiseptic), using stainless steel vats and better temperature control for fermentation, and avoiding malolactic fermentation. These wines are more refreshing and fruit-forward with their flavors, and have a bit of aging potential. If you drink white wines, do not underestimate the quality of a Bordeaux Blanc Sec, especially Le G de Guiraud.

Le G de Guiraud is composed of 70% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, complemented by 30% Semillon grapes. The healthy, ripe grapes are hand-harvested at the peak of their ripeness, sometimes requiring a second passing through the vineyard to maximize yields. Once the grapes reach the winery, they are pressed and then fermented for 2 weeks in new oak barrels previously used for the sweet wines. Aging takes place in barriques for 6-9 months afterwards and the juice is left on the lees, which are regularly stirred for added body and flavor. The end result is a great value white wine full of flavor, costing about $35 CDN/bottle.

I had been storing two bottles of the 2008 vintage in our wine cellar and figured now would be a good time to drink one to see how developed the flavors had become. I found the 2008 G de Guiraud to be a fully developed, well-balanced white with grass and stone on the nose and palate, with just a hint of damp oak and gooseberry. The wine has a refreshing acidity that lasts well into the long finish. Subtle complexity with a great concentration of flavor. Best to drink now or within a year, but newer vintages could hold for 5 years.

Even though Bordeaux whites will never have the same reputation or  as their reds and sweet wines, they're still a great value with great flavor. If you like full-bodied whites, why not get one on your next visit to your local wine or liquor store? I promise you won't be disappointed. Cheers!