Château de la Dauphine Bordeaux Blanc 2019

I have spent a weekend surrounded by samples of 2019 Bordeaux. My forthcoming report on this vintage promises to be one of my most expansive ever; having tasted many wines during ten days in Bordeaux in December last year, as well as a handsome selection from the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux in London a few weeks before that trip, I am now working my way through all the samples which were sent to me in Scotland. I suspect the final tally of samples tasted is going to be big one.

Tasting sample after sample after sample at home, it is a joy when a wine jumps out at you, and the 2019 Bordeaux Blanc from Château de la Dauphine did just that. I know the wines of this estate very well. I have visited more than a few times (the château often hosts the Cercle Rive Droite tasting during the primeurs, a good way to draw in the tasters) and I have watched the wines evolve as the vineyard has been expanded (with several notable acquisitions), restructured and converted first to organic and then to biodynamic viticulture. As a consequence of these efforts, some of the most recent vintages from this property are the best I have ever tasted, so I was delighted to see a sample of the 2019 Fronsac included in a case of samples. I was more surprised, however, to see next to it a bottle of the white from Château de la Dauphine. I knew this new cuvée was in the pipeline, but that didn’t lessen the surprise when I first laid eyes on it, especially in this rather showy clear glass bottle.

Château de la Dauphine Bordeaux Blanc 2019

This cuvée, released in the 2019 vintage for the very first time, is sourced from just 0.8 hectares of vines planted on the highly regarded Calcaire à Astéries limestone soils which dominate the appellation. They are currently just five years old, and this is the first commercially released vintage. The fruit was picked on the morning of September 3rd 2019 (I imagine it did not take too long) and went through a pneumatic press before vinification of selected juices in oak barrels, 50% new and 50% older. The wine rested on the lees for six months, before bottling in April 2020. It has been made with consultation from Michel Rolland and Julien Viaud, who also work with the estate on their red.

The 2019 Bordeaux Blanc from Château de la Dauphine, which is closed with a DIAM 3, is a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon, mirroring exactly what is planted in the vineyard. In the glass it has a polished, yellow-gold hue (not quite as deep as it appears in the image above), more like the skin of a ripe mirabelle. It feels rather tight on the nose at first, but of course it needs a little time, and after half an hour of air it displays some crystalline peach, orange and pear aromatics, tinged with angelica and marigold. It comes infused with a little minerally, flinty, smoky and matchsticky reduction, and a twist of toast. It is the fruit that leads the way though. The palate mirrors the nose, although here it is the structural elements which are more striking than the fruit profile, the style tense, taut, crystalline, smoky and mineral, very nicely defined, communicating very nicely its limestone origins. The fruit profile here feels less exotic than the nose, with notes of lemon peel and chamomile, but it is the charged energy which provides the real interest, carrying it through to a strong finish. Overall this is a fine first vintage, and yet more evidence of the potential for a different style of white Bordeaux on the right bank. Sadly, with just 500 bottles produced, this is not a wine you will find lingering on the shelves of your local bottle shop. The declared alcohol is 13.5%. 90/100 (31/1/22)

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