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Reliably fresh, aromatic and unoaked Bordeaux white from Entre-Deux Mers combining roughly two-thirds sauvignon and a third semillon with a touch of muscadelle for added character.
Product Code: BW6701
View all products by Vignobles Despagne
Vignobles Despagne is responsible for six Bordeaux properties, spanning 300 hectares, and is known for taking more care of its vines than some classed growths.The family shines like a beacon in Entre-Deux-Mers. In 1990, it acquired Château Bel-Air Perponcher here, and has developed as high a reputation for its whites as its reds at this property. The vines, which are immaculately tended, comprise sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle for the whites and merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc for the reds and the company’s rosé. Vines have been cultivated organically since 2008.The ‘grand vin’ here is 80% merlot, with 10% each of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, and is aged in new oak barrels. Drink it between four to eight years after the vintage. A lighter, unoaked wine (the Réserve) is also made, as well as a semillon-dominant white which is cool fermented to achieve a refreshing, aromatic character. The property’s rosé is made using cabernet sauvignon (plus around 30% merlot and a little cabernet franc), the grapes for which are picked at optimum ripeness to retain their freshness. This property is run by Basaline Despagne, and her brother Thibault runs Château Mont-Perat, a fantastic example of a Premier Cotes de Bordeaux from the right bank of the Garonne. Acquired in 1998, the four splendidly positioned hills of vines here are managed by Jean-Pierre Cousinié. A quarter of the estate is given to the white wine, which is typically a blend of 80% sauvignon and 20% semillon, although in some vintages a small amount of muscadelle is also included. This is fermented in French oak, around half of which is new, before being matured in oak for a further eight months. The red is normally 70% merlot with the remainder made up of 20% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc. This is aged in oak, 50% of which is new, for seven to ten months, and will keep well for four to 12 years. Mont-Perat was featured in a Japanese Manga publication called Drops of God, in which drinking it was compared to attending a Queen concert, and the wine has subsequently developed an enormous Asian following.The talented Joël Elissalde is the oenologist here, and has been since 1987, and his hard work over the years means that Mont-Perat could often pass for a much more expensive wine. He also works with Thibault on Girolate, a superb 100% merlot wine that is a consistent hit with the critics.There are 10 hectares of Girolate vines, planted on south-facing limestone slopes, much like those in Saint-Emilion. Each parcel of vines is fermented separately in oak barrels which are rotated twice a day to soften the wine’s tannins. The Despagne family also owns and runs Château Tour de Mirambeau, Château Rauzan Despagne and Château Lion Beaulieu. Both the Despagne family and its team are constantly striving for improvement, and Vignobles Despagnes has earned much well-deserved respect over the years, as well as a popular place in the tastes of Society members.
The Bordeaux region is most renowned for its red wines but there are a number of excellent dry white wines, some of them amongst the most prestigious white wines in France, and indeed the world. White wine represents little more than 10% of the output of the region, from vines grown on about 7,000 hectares. Unlike Bordeaux AC reds, whites under the simple Bordeaux appellation may come from very prestigious properties within a commune because the commune appellation rules sometimes apply only to red wine. Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux and Ygrec, the dry white wines from the legendary producers Château Margaux and Château d’Yquem respectively, can only bear the appellation Bordeaux AC despite each estates’ renown and status as a 1er grand cru classé for red wines.As with reds under the basic Bordeaux appellations, the grapes that make white wine can come from anywhere in Bordeaux (and if made by a négociant company probably will). The principal grape varieties for Bordeaux AC whites are sauvignon blanc, semillon, sauvignon gris, ugni blanc and muscadelle with some smaller plantings of colombard and a little merlot blanc. At one time semillon was the most widely planted grape variety in Bordeaux, red or white, but since public taste moved decisively to red wines it has declined and now plays second fiddle to sauvignon blanc, which has enjoyed a renaissance in the wake of New Zealand’s success with the variety. Indeed, while most Bordeaux wines are a blend of complementary grape varieties, there are now a significant number of single-varietal sauvignons on the market. White grapes, particularly sauvignon blanc, are harvested earlier than reds, unless they are destined for sweet wines, and many are hand-picked because of the narrow width of the rows in many Bordeaux vineyards though machine harvesting is an option for some. Vineyard management, as with reds, is much improved in recent decades, with a much better understanding of vine care and canopy management leading to more reliably ripened and healthy fruit. Those that can afford to will sort the grapes at least once on arrival at the winery, partly because of the inherent problems of fungal attacks in Bordeaux.Winemaking techniques vary, with some producers having the resources to give the juice extended skin contact and the resulting wine some time in oak, though most cannot and do not. The bad old days of excessive use of sulphur are mostly gone and white wines are greatly improved, with better fruit characters across the board and terrific freshness and balance. The best wines are world class and many provide excellent value.Bordeaux whites have a very pale yellow colour when young which will deepen to straw yellow with age. Pessac-Léognan whites and those vinified in oak are generally richer in colour and flavour and favour more elaborate fish and white-meat dishes.
The Bordeaux dry whites of 2019 are excellent this year, with an almost exotic edge, but underscored with the hallmark freshness of the vintage, and good aromatic expression.
"Lovely crisp pale wine with a long finish. It arrived in a mixed dozen box and i will be ordering more. Delicious"
I would recommend this wine
"Very lovely and aromatic White Bordeaux. In a blind tasting, I was leaning towards this being an Albarino or Austrian Riesling because of how floral and aromatic it was (with some mouthwatering salinity) until the Sauv blanc citrusy nature came out on the palate. A good example to study with because it shows the range of White Bordeaux but even more stellar to enjoy for its own pleasure--especially at that great price point!"
I would recommend this wine
"I like this (probably a bit too much), I've been searching for a new everyday white and I think I have found it. "
"Like this, on my second or third dozen, great value for money, goes down far too easy, nice flavour. I prefer it a bit below room temperature."
"Fresh and clean taste. Very enjoyable served well chilled. Lovely with lightly smoked salmon and a creamy sauce. "
"Lovely crisp pale wine with a long finish. It arrived in a mixed dozen box and i will be ordering more. Delicious"
Sunday Express 4th Feb 2021
fabulously fresh, aromatic unoaked white from the Bordeaux vineyards between
the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Made from a blend of sauvignon and semillon
with a little muscadelle, the citrus and tropical notes complement the crisp,
refreshing acidity. A perfect match for fish pie, roasted prawns or salmon
pasta. - Richard Esling"
"On our second order of this and will order again. Very pleasant and redolent of the great SSB blends from Margaret River."
Dr Pippa Lane (07-Jun-2020)
"We have purchased these wine for many years. The reason is that it has taste and is great with white fish, e.g. plaice plus it is a respectable price. There are other good wines of course but they do tend to be more expensive. So in summary a wine that is good with any white fish, has real taste and is a reasonable price"
Mr Stewart Mills (03-Apr-2020)
Decanter (5th Jun 2019)
"One of the top wines
of the 'Everyday Bordeaux' tasting, with white apricot, ripe pear and decent
mid palate density. With admirable freshness and lift on the finish, the wine
works well with steamed or grilled fish … at under £10 a bottle you cannot go wrong."
"Had high expectations but quite disappointed - far too bright for my liking. With Semillon and Muscadelle in the mix I expected a more rounded and elegant Bordeaux but sadly this didn't come through. My other half is a Sauvignon Blanc fan and also found it on the wrong side of zesty for a (near) £10 Bordeaux. Sorry, but I wouldn't recommend. "
Mr Mark Chandler (06-May-2019)
Manchester Evening News (29th Mar 2019)
"I've recommended this
citrussy, fragrant white before but it really is a perfect spring wine for fish
dishes. There's a dash of spice coming in as the palate opens out into rounded
quince before a crisp finish. - Andy Cronshaw"
"Very agreeable, well-balanced, interesting. Excellent value for the price."
Mr Mark O'Sullivan (07-Oct-2017)
"Really fresh and delicious"
Dr Thomas Shakespeare (15-Nov-2016)
"This wine is wonderful"
Mr Adam Morris (24-Mar-2016)
Scotland on Sunday (5th Feb 2017)
expertise with sauvignon blanc surfaces clearly in this blend (with semillon
and a dash of muscadelle). The resulting wine centres on textured pear and
quince fruit elements, reinforces them with touches of green pepper and ginger
but enlivens it all with classic sauvignon pink grapefruit acidity - Brian Elliott"
Daily Record (4th Feb 2017)
"This classy white
shows how ably Bordeaux producers blend sauvignoni and semillon to create
fresh, textured wine with pear and quince fruit, firm acidity and hints of
green pepper and ginger. - Brian Elliott"
Manchester Evening News (15th Oct 2016)
zesty white with floral overtones. Perfect for fish and shellfish in
particular. - Andy Cronshaw
Decanter (1st Jun 2016)
round but crisp, good definition, clean citrus flavours, some smoky edging,
an accomplished wine from the Despagne family.
- Jane Anson
Kent & Sussex Courier (13th May 2016)
is most celebrated for its red wines but there are a number of tremendous dry
whites around like this one, which is superb from all angles. It has
excellent texture and mouth feel with vibrant waves of grapefruit,
passionfruit, fresh cut grass and lemons, topped and tailed with crunchy
acidity.Don't dissect it - just drink it! Piquant, mouth-watering and highly
drinkable, it is a wine that is made for summer garden sipping and
unquestionably food-friendly. Drink with seasonal plaice / haddock and
asparagus, goat's cheese, seafood starters and grilled fish. - James Viner
Surrey Advertiser (18th Dec 2015)
"Lively, fruity and
dry but not at all austere. - Heather Dougherty"
JancisRobinson.com (1st Dec 2015)
"Light nose. Lots of
green, grassy fruit on the palate. Crystalline structure and rather agreeably
non stinky. Good breadth. Just a little peachiness on the finish to which
it seems to build. Refreshing. - Jancis Robinson "
South Cambrian News (27th Aug 2015)
"Light and dry with a
fragrant aroma. - Bev Thomas"
Hampstead & Highgate Express (13th Aug 2015)
[semillon] freshness plus a tangy grapefruit element and a hint of something
enjoyably herbal. There's depth and good length - try it with chicken. - Liz Sagues"
Cottinhgam Times (1st Aug 2015)
"The wine is light and
dry with a fragrant aroma and suited our supper of sea bass, with an avocado
salad, perfectly. - Roy Woodcock"
Decanter (27th May 2015)
"A Despagne family
wine, from 55% sauvignon blanc, 35% semillon and 10% muscadelle. There is a
real sweetness to the fruit here, suggesting good ripeness even with the lovely
fresh finish. The grape must is fermented at low temperatures to favour vibrant
fruit, and the vines have been organically farmed since 2008. - Jane Anson"
"What a disappointment. I bought three bottles of this from the showroom in June on the back of a lovely bottle ordered in an earlier case. It turns out these three were 2013 vintage and the previous bottle 2014. Although we are not experts, all three bottles were tainted and flat."
Mrs Louisa Bromilow (02-Jul-2015)
"Crisp, light and dry with lots of citrus. Very refreshing."
Kevin Finn Esq (28-Feb-2015)
"This was muted when chilled, but then, after a little while out the fridge, had strong honey and nectarine aromas. Tasted medium bodied, with bracing acidity and a clean, pleasant finish. I thought it tasted much more of Semillon than Sauvignon, and the tasting notes says it is "predominantly semillon with some sauvignon and muscadelle". But I was left a little confused, as the wine's main page says the state makes "a blend of 80% sauvignon and 20% semillon fermented in French oak". I presume this refers to a different wine?"
Mr Shashank Cheetham-Joshi (05-Jul-2014)
thewinegang.com (2nd Mar 2015)
"Perfumed and floral
albeit quite subtle in aroma. Nicely chewy in texture and with a very definite
sour tang to the apple freshness on the finish. - The Wine Gang"
Sheffield Profile (1st Feb 2015)
"Fragrant with herbal
and lemon grass aromas, and flavours of stone fruits plus contrasting citrus. A
refreshing wine to accompany fish, chicken and salads. - Richard Marsden"
House & Garden (31st Dec 2014)
"To match Sybil Kappor's seared halibut with preserved
lemon and olive polish; 'You must not overpower the halibut but the relish
needs a white with good acidity.' - Joanna Simon"
Chichester Observer (11th Sep 2014)
"Grassy aromas are
provided by the sauvignon, and there is just a touch of honey from the
semillon. This crisp white wine is perfect for a summer evening, with or
without food. - Peter Homer"
aboutmygeneration.com (10th Aug 2014)
"Green grassy, limey
aromas. Very clean and crisp in the mouth and long lasting. Great as an
apéritif or with white fish or chicken in a creamy sauce. "
The Herald (26th Jul 2014)
Bordeaux white with a green apple flavour. Bone dry, but for a faintly milky
texture. - Tom Bruce Gardyne"
York Press (19th Jul 2014)
"Crisp and fresh, it
has subtle grassy flavours of lime with floral, herbal and mineral notes along
the way. - Mike Tipping"
"Quintessential white Bordeaux - initially grassy on the nose but don't chill too much and you'll enjoy the rounder, fleshier qualities of the Semillon component. Really nicely balanced wine."
Mr Richard Holmes (27-Oct-2013)
"What a lovely wine! Lots of fruity aromas - lemon zesty, fresh and dry on the palate. The semillon adds just a little more body to the aftertaste than a pure sauvignon blanc. We only bought three bottles to sample this one - we'll be back for more!"
Mr Graham Horsley (11-Apr-2013)
The Times (4th Jan 2014)
… fine, steely, lime and mandarin peel-stashed
white bordeaux from the Entre Deux Mers with a softer semillon, sauvignon and
muscadelle palate than most … a welcome change for jaded palates.
- Jane MacQuitty
Decanter Bordeaux supplement (5th Jun 2013)
"Pale yellow-green colour, and crisp nose, touch of reduction that clears quickly. On palate also, a zingy crisp green freshness. Low-temperature winemaking at 18° maximum, then ageing for three months on fine lees, with twice weekly lees stirring, which encourages this reductive aspect. 55% sauvignon blanc, 35% sémillon, 10% muscadelle, from the Despagne family. - Jane Anson"
"One of the nicest whites I've had in this price range. Difficult to imagine finding one in a supermarket for less than a tenner that'd beat this fine specimen. Ordered two in my first delivery from The Society and have just done likewise in my second!"
Mr Christopher Johnson (01-Oct-2012)
"This is a really good dry white - the muscadelle makes it much more interesting and great as an an aperitif rather than normal white Bordeaux at this price which is bland and dry and needs cassis. It's not for the long haul, but bring on the summer!"
Mr Simon Wood (27-Feb-2012)
"Pretty disappointed with this I'm afraid. Typical, young, grassy example but lacking any subtlety. There is better available at this price."
Mr Kevin Barry (25-Nov-2010)
"I have enjoyed this wine regularly over several years and vintages and would thoroughly recommend it to all members (especially at the sale price)."
Dr Jeremy Hall (10-Jan-2010)
"I have drunk this wine it seems for ever and I never lose my taste for it. Over the years I have introduced my daughters and their partners and husbands to it and it never ever fails to impress. Each year the wine seems to improve and I hope to continue to recommend this delicious Bordeaux for many years to come."
Mr Geoffrey King (05-Dec-2009)
"Bel Air has long been a favourite of mine and never fails to produce a very drinkable wine. It is light and easy to drink but with just that bit of fruity bite which makes it hit the taste buds very satisfactorily. Always a good buy and a very reasonable price for such overall quality."
Peter J Cathcart Esq (15-Nov-2009)
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