Clos Floridène 2011
The appellations of central France, especially Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, have occupied more than their fair share of my thoughts recently. As subscribers will know I have been adding new profiles, updating old ones and adding fresh reports on recent vintages from the likes of François Cotat, Vincent Pinard and Gérard Boulay. As a consequence I have really buffed up my thoughts on how Sauvignon Blanc performs in these regions, and I have reflected especially on what influence terroir (which, to my mind, is what makes wine really interesting) has on the variety in question. Perhaps the biggest revelation has been that there seems to be greater variation within the appellation of Sancerre, especially when comparing wines from the Kimmeridgian limestone or terres blanches of Chavignol to those from the more predominant Portlandian stone, also known as caillottes, than there are when comparing wines from Sancerre with those Pouilly-Fumé, a more commonly made comparison I suspect.
Bearing all this in mind I wanted to take a look this weekend at Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, to see how this wine tasted in comparison. I accept immediately that I could have found a more suitable wine for that comparison, because Clos Floridène, like many white wines from Bordeaux, also includes Semillon in the blend (and in this case also a little dollop of Muscadelle) and it is therefore far from a straight 100% Sauvignon Blanc comparison. Nevertheless, I plumped for the Clos Floridène firstly because it was to hand, and secondly because I have enjoyed it in previous vintages (which was precisely why I had it to hand, of course).
Even so, the wine seems very true to its appellation, transcending strong varietal influence just as the best wines of Sancerre do (and perhaps Pouilly-Fume as well). The domaine, just in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a 42-hectare vineyard in the ownership of the renowned oenologist Denis Dubourdieu, and its name is a blend of his forename with that of his wife, Florence (a bit like the recently profiled Domaine Mélaric, then). The majority of the vines are in Pujols-sur-Ciron, the commune directly adjacent to Barsac (the Ciron is the river that separates Barsac from the other Sauternes communes). Here the soils have the red hue that is typical of both Barsac and Pujols, but beneath this thin upper layer there is limestone, generally calcaire à astéries. The Dubourdieus also have 3 hectares of vines in Illats, which is just to the north of Barsac and Pujols; here the soils are gravel and clay.
The 2011 Clos Floridène is a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 44% Semillon and 1% Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc having a greater representation in the wine than it has in the vineyard (which is 56% Semillon). After picking by hand the fruit is pressed and allowed a little skin contact, before the juices are separated and transferred into barrels, of which one-quarter are renewed each year. The wine enjoys up to eight months on its lees, with bâtonnage, before bottling. In the glass it has a vibrant hue, and is fairly richly coloured for a Sauvignon Blanc (although as noted there is Semillon here too). It has a very classic Graves nose, showing a typically sandy, quartzy edge, but the ripeness of the fruit comes through as well, with notes of white peach and tangerine alongside, together with a chalky, barley water substance. After this impressive beginning the palate doesn't have to do too much to convince me; it has a full, supple, fresh-fruit character, with plenty of substance and bite, but also a generous texture to match. It's a delight, and this is one Sauvignon Blanc (blend, admittedly) from beyond Sancerre's borders that I will be looking out for in the future. 16/20 (9/6/14)