It has been fashionable to have bone-dry, very crisp and linear Sauvignon Blancs here in the UK. This whole movement was spearheaded by the arrival of New Zealand wines back in the ’90s and it coincided with an increased interest in white wines in general.
It probably helped that the NZ wines were similar in style to the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio but with a bit more body and character. They were wines with bite and strong streaks of acidity.
In the haste to pick up these new wines, consumers brushed aside the Old World wines and embraced these New World interlopers. As with all things, the pendulum has swung back and now, there is a renewed interest in Sauvingon Blancs with body as well as structure. The white wines of Bordeaux are overlooked, everyone being far more interested in their their red wine counterparts but there are many whites that are made to a very high standard and have the structure, body and that New World Sauvignon Blancs just don’t possess.
What makes these white Bordeaux stand out is the fact that they are often blended with Semillon, which gives body, but also that many of the higher-quality ones spend time in oak. Although they are usually bigger barrels, the wines still benefit from spending time with its oaky friend.
The vineyard has been in existence for hundreds of years but it wasn’t until 1976 when Jean Bellenger bought the land and began planting. His aim was to produce high-quality wine. He found the best spots for his vines, built a state-of-the-art winery and began his first vinification in 1987. His son, Frederic took over in 1995 and it is he who now makes the excellent Ch. Roquefort Roque Fortissime Sauvignon blanc. I tried the 2008 recently and it was a winner, having spent 10 months in oak; it was creamy and full, but not rich – an elegant wine, well-balanced with fantastic exotic fruit aromas and a hint of buttery creaminess on the palate.
If you’re bored with the same old acidic, over-active New World Sauvignon Blancs, then give white Bordeaux a try – you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
The 2008 Roque Fortissime Sauvignon Blanc is available from Waitrose and retails for £12.99.