It seems that Henri Lurton of Chateau Brane Cantenac in Margaux may be considering producing a white wine in the future. Terre de Vins reported that Brane Cantenac has a plot amongst their 75 hectares that Lurton thinks would be better planted with white grapes. He said that if the project is not yet ready then at least the land is. Perhaps in 5 years time we will be seeing the first Blanc de Chateau Brane Cantenac.
White Bordeaux has the potential to be almost as enticing a category as White Burgundy but whether it will ever emerge from the shadows is another story. Although White Bordeaux does not enjoy the dynamic price increases of its red sibling it does have a rarity factor as well as being superb to drink and it has a loyal fan base too.
At the end of the 20th century Bordeaux was producing more white than red wine – a hundred years ago most of the major châteaux made a white wine. The Bordeaux Whites nowadays are made in tiny quantities but top flight whites are sought after, collected and enjoyed.
I think we may be seeing a slow trend developing in Bordeaux which shows a return to the past. Top châteaux outside Pessac Leognan and Graves have started to make white wine, namely Châteaux Mouton Rothschild’s Aile d’Argent (Pauillac), Lynch Bages (Pauillac), Talbot (St Julien), Lagrange (St Julien) and most recently Cos d’Estournel (St Estephe).
The big names tend to hail from the Graves/Pessac Leognan area: Châteaux Laville Haut Brion, Domaine de Chevalier, Haut Brion Blanc, Carbonnieux,Pape Clement Blanc and Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc.
Very few white wines are made by the Grand Cru Classé in the Medoc and in the Margaux appellation the most famous is of course the Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux. Chateau Margaux was making white wine as far back as 1715.
However Chateau Prieure Lichine in Margaux has also been making a white wine since 1990: Blanc de Château Prieuré Lichine, on 1.5 hectares planted with 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Sémillon and in 2007 the Margaux Third Growth Chateau Palmer also produced a limited amount of rare experimental white wine to revive the past of the chateau.
Only 75 cases were produced and the wine (classified as a vin de table) is not for sale, having been made for the chateau’s shareholders.
It is known that Chateau Palmer produced a white wine in the 1920s – although the chateau itself has no records of doing so. However some Chateau Palmer Blanc did exist, the proof being in the few rare bottles which the preceding generations have left in their wine cellars.
The 1920s label design is the same as that of Château Palmer; only the colours are different, with a black image on a white background. The modern Chateau Palmer Blanc is made from a blend of 65% Muscadelle, 25% Sauvignon Gris with the remaining 10% a mix of Merlot Blanc and Lauzet.
If anyone knows of other Grand Cru Classé producing white wine please let me know!