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Château Guiraud Bordeaux Blanc Sec 2020

Château Guiraud Bordeaux Blanc Sec 2020

The march from sweet to dry continues to pick up the pace in Sauternes. Quite a number of my recent tasting reports and profile updates have featured details of new and increasingly dry developments in this region of Bordeaux. The appearance of a new dry cuvée from Château d’Arche, featured as a recent weekend wine, is one example. And my recent Bordeaux 2021 reports, providing some detail on the new emphasis on dry wines at Chateau Suduiraut, is another.

This weekend I had the opportunity to test drive yet another new dry cuvée from the region, the first release of the 2020 Blanc Sec from Chateau Guiraud.

As anyone who follows my tasting notes and profiles (all three of you) will already know, Chateau Guiraud already has a long history of producing a dry white wine, under the name G de Guiraud, following the local tradition of naming the dry white in this fashion (see also S de Suduiraut, R de Rieussec, and so on). Like the dry wines of Chateau Suduiraut, however, G de Guiraud has always hidden in the shadow cast by the grand vin, the estate’s sweet wine. In a similar manner to the move at Chateau Suduiraut, which has placed the top dry wine on an equal footing with the top sweet wine, this release from Chateau Guiraud also seeks to establish a new level of significance for its dry wines.

Château Guiraud Bordeaux Blanc Sec 2020

This new cuvée does not replace G de Guiraud, but occupies a higher rung on the quality ladder, alongside the top sweet wine. Given the increasing importance of the dry wines to this corner of Bordeaux this development is entirely understandable; good quality dry wines seem to have much greater potential for balancing the books than the entirely delicious and yet ever-unfashionable sweet wines.

The vineyard has been certified organic since the 2011 vintage, making 2020 the estate’s tenth certified vintage. Of the 110 hectares a large share – often more than half, depending on the vintage – has long been dedicated to the production of dry wine. For this new project another 10 hectares of 25-year-old vines on mostly sandy-gravelly soils has been signed over. The fruit was picked by hand commencing on August 20th, the early start an indication of the warmth of the 2020 vintage, and finishing on September 7th. The yield was a handsome 40 hl/ha, naturally a very different figure to what you might expect for the estate’s sweet wine. After pressing the juice was vinified in barrels previously used for the fermentation of the Sauternes grand vin, and to my surprise – bearing in mind the warmer and richer style of wines found in 2020 – about 35% of the blend went through malolactic fermentation. It was then aged in barrel for twelve months, before bottling.

In the glass the 2020 Bordeaux Blanc Sec from Château Guiraud, which is a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, sports a nose of bright green apples, with sweeter nuances suggesting passion fruit, peaches and oranges. Given its story the palate is appropriately textural and lightly creamed, with a delicately pithy backbone alongside some soft acidity. It has a classic Bordeaux style, combining this pithy substance with a supple and lightly creamed texture, with flavours of sweet citrus fruits mirroring the aromatics. It is attractive, easy-going in this ripe and benevolent vintage, and charming. Part of this profile comes from the midpalate’s rather subtle acidity which engenders the middle and finish with a rather plush weight of fruit. but while it may be missing a little acid cut, there is no denying the desirable density and concentration here. Just 11,000 bottles of this were produced, and the declared alcohol is 14%. 91/100

The owners of Château Guiraud scored something of a coup recently, when they tempted Sandrine Garbay, so long associated with Château d’Yquem, to join the team. Having years of experience there, both with the sweet grand vin and with the dry cuvée ‘Y’, I expect we will see some smart wines – dry and sweet – coming from Château Guiraud in the near future. (18/7/22)

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