Bordeaux produces some iconic white wines which are just as enticing as their reds. I often find at wine tasting events that people who have not discovered Bordeaux Whites before are surprised and impressed by their quality, depth and structure.
Although White Bordeaux does not enjoy the fame of its red sibling it is a lovely wine to drink. It has a loyal fan base too.
Many of the prestigious top flight chateaux in Bordeaux produce a white wine. These are made in tiny quantities but they are sought after, collected and enjoyed. They are also expensive.
However there are lots of much smaller chateaux producing superb Bordeaux Whites and you don’t have to pay a fortune for their wines either.
When trying to track down a good White Bordeaux it’s important to remember that the lesser known wine producing regions in Bordeaux and smaller chateaux of today were sometimes the most desired in the past.
These can be a treasure trove for wine makers and consumers alike. They are packed with potential and most of the good wines produced there are snapped up locally, never reaching the market outside France.
Many small chateaux don’t have the finances to spend on advertising and marketing – their wines depend on their reputation and word of mouth. I believe they actually represent some of the best value Bordeaux available.
Chateau Le Rondailh is one such a find. This is a small chateau that has been owned by the Pallaruelo family for 6 generations and its wines were not available in the UK – until now. It sits in a peaceful and quiet corner of Bordeaux on the hills in Saint Macaire which lies on the right bank of the River Garonne between Sauternes and Saint Emilion.
Saint Macaire may be a tranquil backwater nowadays but it was once a thriving Medieval city and prosperous merchant port which shipped its wines down the River Garonne.
Although there is no port there today the legacy of Saint Macaire can be seen in wines from Australia (Westend Estate’s ‘Calabria‘) and California (O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery’s ‘Howell Mountain’) which are being made with the extremely rare grape named ‘Saint Macaire’ – now extinct in Bordeaux.
Chateau Le Rondailh‘s vines lie on ancient area on Macaire’s hills; the chateau is a Lieu Dit (a term often given to old vineyards that bear a traditional name) and the name ‘Rondailh’ has Occitan roots (Occitan being the old language spoken in this area before modern French was developed).
The vineyards sit on clay and chalk slopes and stretch out over three communes: Sainte Foy La Longue, Saint Laurent du Bois and Saint Martial, covering 98 acres – 24 of which are dedicated to Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown especially for their white wines.
Le Rondailh’s white wines are gorgeous and the Chateau Le Rondailh 2011 Bordeaux Blanc (£9.45) is made from a blend of 20% Sémillon and 80% Sauvignon Blanc grapes and is 12.5% abv. This is an elegant and aromatic wine with good acidity. Full of character, pure, fresh and well balanced, Le Rondailh has flavours of ripe pears, lemon, lime flowers and red gooseberries with subtle nuances of melon, minerality and passion fruit.
Chateau Le Rondailh is perfect on its own but is most definitely a food friendly wine and is an excellent match with fish, seafood (steamed clams, mussels and langoustines), creamy chicken dishes, grilled pork, most appetisers and salads as well as spicy Thai and Cantonese cuisine.