Château Brown Blanc 2010
Summer arrived in Scotland this week. Yes, I know it is still officially spring, but up here in the land of haggis and hailstorms you take what you can get. It was only half a day of sunshine, but that’s quite a good summer here, and it was possibly the longest period of time during which the sun was visible since at least 2008. The temperatures will, I suspect, break records, as they were well into double figures for several hours.
The barbecue was duly fired up. It may well have been sunny, but it was breezy too, and it was attempt number eight before I managed to keep the matches lit for long enough to get them to the Zip fire-lighter snuggled beneath the coals. Even then the lighter block was extinguished and relit several times before the flames finally took hold, and the charcoals began to glow. As the heat built up the barbecue creaked and groaned, and large flakes of rust began to fall away from the floor and sides, enlarging several pre-existing holes. Fortunately enough metal remained to hold up the grill where the coals were sitting, but I fear this particular barbecue is not long for this world. I have owned it eight years, thus it has seen out eight Scottish winters; despite this I have used it only twenty or perhaps thirty times, and during most of these ‘grill sessions’ I was wearing a jacket. And occasionally a scarf. The last occasion was a few weeks ago, when I grilled a boned leg of lamb on it; I positioned it near the French doors, and watched it from within the warmth of the kitchen. That’s how to barbecue in Scotland.
And so to my latest distinctly Scottish barbecue. A few prawns marinated in lime and chilli went on the grill, followed by a small slab of salmon. What to drink? My hand went into the wine cabinet and pulled out the bottle above, the white wine of Château Brown, in the 2010 vintage. I’m lucky to have a bottle in my possession I think, as the wine has been selling like hot cakes in a Scottish summer since it picked up two trophies – not just gold medals, but trophies – in both the 2012 International Wine Challenge and 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards. I find it hard to imagine that any other wine has achieved such a remarkable coup, but do let me know if I am mistaken.
In the glass the 2010 Château Brown Blanc has a pale lemon-green gold hue. The assemblage for this vintage is 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon, and it is the former of these two varieties that provides the strongest contribution to the fruit profile at the moment. This is not to say the wine is fruit-dominated, however, as the nose first conjures up images of gently sandy minerals, showing quite a pointed character, with an almost quartzy nuance at times. Behind this the fruit profile is ripe, showing little notes of passion fruit and pear, the former most certainly reflecting the presence of Sauvignon Blanc. In the mouth it feels full and firm, with very good acidity providing lift and precision to the pithy and also gently fleshy fruit on the palate. As well as this there is a flinty, sandy, rather matchsticky seam running underneath it all. It has good grip, and a ripe and punchy character overall. This is drinking very nicely now, although I suspect it would age well; even the 2003, tasted at the château a couple of years ago, was drinking well then, and this vintage has a much more favourable structure for the cellar I think. 17.5/20 (3/6/13)