Sweet white Bordeaux wine that attracts younger consumers and gourmets


When you think of Bordeaux, you usually think of a big, hearty red wine. However, semi-sweet and sweet white wines have been produced in Bordeaux since the 16th centurythat Century. For a long time only considered as a soft drink after dinner, such as a sweet Sauternes or a Barsac, there is another section of Bordeaux that is gaining more attention with its sweet wines – especially among young consumers and gourmets. Created in 2009 by the Union des Grands Vins de Bordeaux Sweet, the eight appellations that make up “Sweet White Bordeaux” are becoming more and more important in Europe and penetrating the US market.

“We are seeing that our wines are very popular with younger consumers in France and Germany,” said Arthur Fournier, Operations Manager at Chateau de Birot, during an online tasting of a dozen sweet and semi-sweet wines from the region. “We see a similar trend at other locations.”

Youmna Asseily, co-owner of Chateau Biac, agrees. “We see a lot of young people who are attracted to our wines. It is normal for the younger palate to appreciate sweet wines. Another popular aspect is that these wines can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 weeks after opening. “

This preference for sweet wines is also supported by a recent US study, which shows that every third new wine consumer begins their wine journey with a sweet wine. Another study showed that many wine consumers start out with a preference for sweet wine and then switch to drier styles as they age – however, around 30% of consumers never switch to drier styles and prefer to stick with sweeter wines. So maybe it is time to launch more sweet white Bordeaux wine offerings in the US market.

About the eight sweet white Bordeaux appellations

The eight appellations of the “Sweet White Bordeaux” brand are located in the south and west of the city of Bordeaux, but do not include the better-known Sauternes and Barsac appellations. Each one focuses on a slightly different take on sweetness based on their terroir:

1) AOP Cadillac – sweet and subtle, opulent

2) AOP Loupiac – Sweet and sensual, opulent

3) AOP Bordeaux Moelleux – sweet and fresh, medium sweet

4) AOP Cerons – sweet and refined, opulent

5) AOP Bordeaux Superior – sweet and translucent, medium sweet

6) AOP Premiers Cotes de Bordeaux – Sweet and elegant, medium sweet

7) AOP Saint-Macaire – sweet and spicy, medium sweet

8) AOP Croix-du-Mont – sweet and generous, opulent

The sweet white Bordeaux wines are made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes. They range from pale yellow to bronze orange and taste like honey and white flowers with hints of citrus and candied flavors. There are 350 wineries in the region, which together produce around 9 million bottles of sweet and semi-sweet wine each year – 35% of which are currently exported.

The prices for the 750 ml entry-level wines can be surprisingly cheap, such as Le Blanc de Monsieur Ducourt for 12 USD per bottle and Chateau de Birot ‘Blanc de Birot’ for $ 16. Although high-end wines can run as high as $ 80 per 350ml bottle, such as: Secret de Biac from Chateau de Biac. The wines are relatively easy to find in grocery stores and wine stores in Europe, but are currently only found in a few US states and online. Exports from the region have historically been hampered by US tariffs and spotty marketing efforts, but are now preparing to expand into other states.

Combine sweet Bordeaux white wines with the kitchen

Another surprising aspect of sweet Bordeaux white wines is that gourmets and chefs are increasingly combining them with innovative kitchen options – beyond classic blue cheese and foie gras.

“We have developed many recipes that go well with the sweet white wines in our region,” says Assely. “Some of my favorites are Lebanese days of sea bass with tahini and Seville orange sauce, braised ham with autumn fruits and Grand Marnier marinade, fennel tart, carrot and coconut milk soup, green shrimp curry and crème brûlée with a clementine flavor.”

In fact, the wines go particularly well with spicy dishes such as Asian, Thai, Lebanese, Mexican, Indian and Chinese dishes. Sushi is a particularly popular combination. Many recipes to combine sweet wines with the kitchen are provided by SweetBordeaux.com. Asseily, herself a talented cook, describes how to cook chicken with confit lemons to pair with one of her sweet wines:

“I’m throwing things in for this recipe,” she says. So get some good quality chicken pieces, rub them with ‘five spices’ and put them in an ovenproof dish. When you have some white wine to spare, pour a generous dollop of it on the chicken; Then add a few unpeeled cloves of garlic, black pitted olives, green “Basque” olives, a few shallots, salt and pepper and finally cut the confit lemons into slices. Bake in the oven at a mild temperature. Serve with baked potatoes cut into squares and sprinkled with fresh thyme … and of course a sweet white Bordeaux wine. “

Required solutions for sugar content labels on Bordeaux white wines

One problem plaguing sweet white Bordeaux wine is the lack of a system for indicating the sugar content of wines on the label. It is not always clear to the consumer that the wine is actually sweet. Given that there are many dry white Bordeaux wines made from appellations like Graves, this is a major concern. Additionally, sugar levels can range from 25 grams per liter (gpl) for the semi-sweet wines in a 750 ml bottle to 99 gpl of sugar in a 350 ml bottle for the more opulent, sweeter styles. Front and / or back labels often don’t mention that the wine is sweet.

In order to be completely transparent for consumers, the region must develop a system similar to that of the International Riesling Foundation. They developed a table that is used on the back of wine labels to show consumers where the wine ranks in terms of sweetness. The scale starts with dry and then changes to medium dry, medium sweet and then fully sweet. Despite this disadvantage, the wines of these eight appellations have a lot of historical and taste charm. They can also serve as another port of call for new wine consumers and a fascinating challenge for gourmets and chefs.


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