Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't Blame Me, I'm French

Was out with a group of Bordeaux winemakers the other night who were plugging their white wines. Once upon a time, white vines outnumbered red in the region, but today, they occupy less than 10% of the vineyards. A shame, and for two reasons. Firstly, there are several vineyards in Bordeaux producing undernourished red wines that would be far better off switching to whites. Secondly, the wines, based on Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, with a little help from the aromatic Muscadelle, can be excellent. The top wines such as Smith Haut Lafitte command prices similar to top white Burgundies, and are just as good, while at the cheaper end, wines such as Dourthe No 1 at around £6-7 bring a smile to your face in the way that simiularly priced reds seldom do.

I told the winemakers this, and they were very happy. But I then asked one of them what would make a customer pick a white Bordeaux off the shelf in preference to another style. 'Because as you have said, it is good.' No, you don't understand, what would make them pick white Bordeaux rather than other similarly priced wines of similar quality. 'Because it is very good.' Hmm - head, brick wall... But how do you get the message across that white Bordeaux is very good? 'That is your job...'

So in other words, if white Bordeaux sales are not what they could be in the UK, it is my fault. Nothing to do with the people who make it. It's my fault. Now I understand...