The 2014 Le Blanc Bonhomme is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc drawn from a 2-hectare, biodynamic vineyard close to the banks of the Gironde River. Guillaume Hubert's grounded, vineyard-focused approach results in a vibrant, unworked and racy white whose crunchy freshness and juicy texture reflects its limestone soils more transparently than anything we have come to expect of white Bordeaux.
The grapes are handpicked, manually sorted and undergo a 24-hour carbonic period before being pressed into concrete vats. Here it completes its fermentation, carried out by indigenous yeasts only. In other words, it's a mould-breaking white Bordeaux, and just to be sure no one misses the point, the family bottle it in a Burgundy-shaped vessel.
Vibrating with 2014's stony freshness, it's a crunchy, racy white with mouth-watering lemon pith, fresh herbs and some white floral notes, closing with some gentle phenolic bite. A lovely release of this vibrant, well-priced white.
In the globalized, painfully commercial world of today's Bordeaux, finding quality, authentic wines at everyday prices is normally a gargantuan challenge. However not here.
Château de Grolet and Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours are both managed by fifth generation growers Catherine and Jean-Luc Hubert. These vignerons break just about every stereotype associated with Bordeaux: their vineyards are certified biodynamic, their wines are easy drinking young, and they offer outstanding value for money. It's impossible not to focus on the value presented here, but it also feels somewhat unfair to the wine. Both wines deliver such honest charm and outright quality that to stress the price too much is to underplay the excellence and sheer deliciousness in the bottle.
These are two Estates run along almost Burgundian lines; ploughed vineyards, low-yields, ripe fruit and low intervention, wild yeast winemaking results in terroir-driven wines that combine texture, freshness and vigour with a much finer tannin profile than that found in many of the region's wines. These are wines that will appeal greatly to, not only Bordeaux lovers and en-primeur buyers, but lovers of delicious, bona fide and impeccably-made wines full stop.
The two Merlot dominant wines below come from two certified biodynamic Estates - Château de Grolet in the Côtes de Bourg and Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours in the Côtes de Blaye. Both regions lie on the right bank of the Gironde, directly opposite the renowned Medoc communes of Margaux, St-Julien and Pauillac. In spite of their proximity to such hallowed real estate, the viticultural picture could hardly be more different here; the flat, orderly communes of the left bank give way to an undulating, pastoral landscape and the rows of manicured Cabernet becomes a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cab Franc. The legendary gravel of the Medoc also finds itself replaced by a complex mesh of limestone, sand, gravel and iron-rich clays.