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Château Brown Blanc 2005

Chateau BrownContinuing with last week's theme of affordable Bordeaux from a great vintage, this week a wine even less widely appreciated than the many good value Cru Bourgeois wines of the Médoc. South of Bordeaux are the vineyards of Pessac-Léognan, where there are not only a number of estates turning out delicious red wines, but there are also some excellent dry white wines. These latter wines truly excelled in the 2006 vintage, the most recent at the time of writing, but in 2005 they also benefited from the favourable conditions that blanketed all of Bordeaux. Generalising, perhaps they are a little riper and a little less taut than those from the ensuing year, and some might mete out not unwarranted although rather pedantic criticism on this basis, but this should not distract from the obvious quality they possess. What is more, step away from the exalted names such as Laville Haut-Brion, Pape-Clément and Domaine du Chevalier, and the wines can be great value. This is clear upon tasting the wines of Château Brown, an estate which has been undergoing a revitalisation since the team of Jean-Christophe Mau and Stéphane Derenoncourt took over the winemaking in 2004, after the former had purchased the property and vineyard. Having tasted this particular wine at the estate in 2006 I recall it had a rich pungency which appeals now, but which also bodes well for the future. I have been even more impressed by the red wine since the Mau-Derenoncourt partnership took over here, particularly as it too remains good value.

Chateau BrownMy most recent tasting of the 2005 Pessac-Léognan Blanc from Château Brown, then, shows that the nose remains rich and pungent, although it has obviously developed during the eight months since I last tasted it at the château. There is still a huge pile of character here, at first difficult to place, until I realise it has that classic, in-your-face, musky Sauvignon Blanc aroma of cat's you-know-what, and yes there is even a little gooseberry bush here too. It has clearly moved on from the green, nettly face it was showing last year. But it is still a complex wine, with notes of greengage, wet vegetation, still a little nettle I suppose, with citrus fruits and yellow capsicum. Obviously this is very Sauvignon-dominated at the moment, although I would think the Semillon, which makes up 35% of the blend, will show its face with time. The palate is rounded and fresh, with a little body and texture, all wrapped up in the incisive, fresh Sauvignon character which mirrors may of the features found on the nose. These carry through onto the finish, which is firm and grippy, with a biting structure. A really nice wine, showing plenty of potential, and which will benefit greatly from being left alone in the cellar for a year or two I think. 17.5+/20 (20/8/07)

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