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Château Talbot Caillou Blanc 2009

Château Talbot Caillou Blanc 2009

First off, before I get to my choice of wine this week, a little ‘housekeeping’ here. Over the weekend, in case you weren’t already aware, Winedoctor changed to a pay-to-view model. Nevertheless, I will continue with some free-to-all updates, and my regular Monday ‘Weekend Wine‘ posting is one that will remain free.

Now that change is made, this seems like the right moment to remind readers of my philosophy when it comes to my ‘Weekend Wine’ posts. Here I feature any wine recently tasted – quite often during the preceding weekend, although to be frank I do occasionally cheat and feature wines tasted earlier in the week – which has piqued my interest. It might be a technical issue with the wine, or something about the vineyard, winemaker or region that has me enthused. And it might be the wine itself of course, sometimes because it is particularly delicious, sometimes the opposite. In short, I don’t really think of these Monday updates as wine ‘recommendations’ as such; instead, I see each one as another step in a life-long wine journey. And to me this is the pleasure of wine, much more than making sure I get the right ‘bargain’ bottles because they have been recommended on the latest Saturday morning cooking show. This is one reason why, surreptitiously, I changed the name of my Monday updates from ‘Wine of the Week’ to ‘Weekend Wine’. The former was just too suggestive!

Château Talbot Caillou Blanc 2009

This weekend’s wine comes from Bordeaux, and I bought it with some significant reservation. To some extent, then, perhaps I came to this wine with some prejudice; I don’t think I would argue with that accusation too strongly. We all know that 2009 was a remarkable vintage for the red wines of Bordeaux (as well as the sweet wines). Whether or not you like the style is another thing (I must admit, every time I revisit them I enjoy them more, as they shed their copious folds of puppy fat) but the vintage was certainly a notable one. But what of the dry white wines? With such a warm growing season, so favourable to the production of great red wines, would the whites do as well? Not likely, in my opinion. My prejudice was therefore against this wine; the white wines of Bordeaux (my experience lies mostly with Pessac-Léognan, but there are whites to be found on the Médoc, and the right bank too) tend to do well in cooler vintages, not least 2011, perhaps even 2012 (but let’s wait and see – I’m off to Bordeaux next week to find out) but also 2007.

And so it was I came to this wine, the Château Talbot Caillou Blanc from the 2009 vintage. A Bordeaux Blanc (there is no other appellation for white wines from the Médoc) the wine comes from the Talbot vineyards. Having driven around the Talbot estate many times I must confess I’ve never discovered the white vineyard, but it must be there somewhere! In the glass, the wine shows nothing unusual in terms of colour, merely a pale, straw-tinged hue. The nose is classic Sauvignon Blanc, with a melange of Sauvignon characteristics, including the slightly sweeter, tropical fruit aromas that reflect the warmer vintage, as well as a surprisingly smoky, minerally, sandy-flinty element. The palate leads with fruit, the slightly dried-desiccated character here matched by a sour citrus-fruit flavour, and there is backbone in the shape of a somewhat aggressive, bitter-pithy Sauvignon edge. This brings a slightly green edge to the fruit, despite the obvious ripe and fleshy characters otherwise. The end brings some rather savoury, stony notes. Overall, this is an interesting wine with plenty of character, but I think it would be seen to be lacking in terms of finesse and poise if lined up against other vintages, especially if compared to the wines of Pessac-Léognan, I suspect. The firm grip which provides the backbone, as opposed to the finer acidity we might find in a cooler, more white-friendly vintage, is another issue. An interesting experiment though. 14.5/20 (1/4/13)

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