Château Couhins-Lurton – White Bordeaux

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Last night’s wine was Château Couhins-Lurton, 2006 from the Pessac-Léognan appellation. A delicious, classic white Bordeaux. What is termed “white Bordeaux” is a wine, usually oaked, made from either sauvignon blanc or semillon or a blend of the two. Unlike “Sauternes” which is also made from these two varietals, white Bordeaux is completely dry.

This example was 100% sauvignon blanc, aged entirely in new French oak. Interestingly, for a region seen as very traditional, this wine was closed in screwcap. While there are noticeable similarities with other well-known sauvignon styles – those of the Loire or New Zealand for instance – there are some important differences.

The appearance of the wine is a pale straw with a green tinge – no surprises there. On the nose, however, the classic fresh sauvignon fruit takes second fiddle to the immediate toasty spice of the French oak. There is vanilla and a certain peppery quality, but none of the butter that often comes through with similarly oaked chardonnay. Digging through the oak aromas, classic sauvignon fruit aromas of gooseberry and lemon are detected. There is also a hint of apricot, indicative of a warmer climate than the Loire, and a mushroom note from bottle development.

The palate also betrays a warmer climate than the Loire, in that the acidity is crisp rather than racy. Alcohol is still kept in check (12.5%) and unlike some New Zealand examples, the wine is completely dry. The body is fairly luscious – an indication of the oak – for a relatively light style. This wine has a lovely long lemon and apricot finish.

As a food wine, this went perfectly with a chicken and ricotta parcel, wrapped in parma ham, served with garlic and thyme potatoes and a rocket salad. The light, dry and non-dominant sauvignon characteristics complement the chicken and ricotta while the spicy oak notes provide a foil to the strong-favoured ham.

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About James

Dr James Flewellen is a biophysicist, award-winning wine writer and educator based in London. Keep up to date with his writings and tastings at www.jamesflewellen.com.
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