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Chateau Bonnet Blanc 2012
Château Bonnet lies to the North of the Entre-Deux-Mers, on the clay-chalk slopes of the commune of Grézillac, overlooking the Dordogne valley some 10km south of Saint Emilion. The estate dates back to the 17th century; when André Lurton took over in 1956, it comprised 30 hectares of vineyard, which he immediately undertook to renovate and develop.
Today, half Bonnet's production is devoted to a highly popular dry white (AOC Entre-Deux-Mers), a blend of Sauvignon, Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes, carefully vinified to preserve the freshness and bouquet of these varietals.
The other half is composed of classic red varietals - Merlots, Cabernet Francs and Cabernet Sauvignons - producing noteworthy clarets widely held to be superior to the general run of the appellation.
Extending over verdant slopes between the Rivers Dordogne and Garonne, the Entre-Deux-Mers region (“between two seas”) offers great value and a splendid introduction to the dry reds and whites of Bordeaux. Merlot and Cabernet comprise most of the reds; Sauvignon blanc and Semillon are responsible for the whites, all of which are best enjoyed in their youth.
Sometimes light and crisp, other times rich and creamy, Bordeaux white blends typically consist of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Often, a small amount of Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris is included for added intrigue. This blend was popularized in the Bordeaux region of France (where it also comprises outstanding sweet wines like Sauternes and Barsac), but is often mimicked throughout the New World, particularly in California, Washington and Australia.
In the Glass
Sémillon provides the background to this blend, with a relatively full body and an oily texture. Sauvignon Blanc adds acidity and lots of bright fruit flavor, particularly white grapefruit, lime and freshly cut grass. Used in smaller proportions, Muscadelle can contribute fresh floral notes, while Sauvignon Gris is less aromatic but offers ripe, juicy fruit on the palate. These wines run the gamut from unoaked, refreshing, and easy to drink to serious, complex and barrel-aged. The latter style, usually with a higher percentage of Sémillon, can develop aromas of ginger, chamomile and dried orange peel. The dessert wines produced by these blends, often with the help of "noble rot" called botrytis, can have lush stone fruit and honey characteristics.
Crisp, dry Bordeaux white blends are the perfect accompaniment for raw or lightly cooked seafood, especially shellfish. A more structured, Sémillon-based bottling can stand up to richer fish, chicken, or pork dishes in white sauces. These blends also work well with a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs, like asparagus, peas, basil and tarragon. Sweet dessert wines are traditionally enjoyed with strong blue cheeses, foie gras or fruit-based desserts.
Sauternes and Barsac are usually reserved for dessert, but astute sommeliers know that they can be served at any time—before, during or after the meal. Try these sweet wines as an aperitif with jamón ibérico, oysters with a spicy mignonette or during dinner alongside hearty Alsatian sausage, poached lobster in beurre blanc sauce or even fried chicken.