That’s a good question, and one that is pretty much determined by where in Bordeaux the producer is located. For the most part Bordeaux Blanc is the product of the southern reaches of Bordeaux. There are three main regions to keep in mind when shopping for a bottle.
Entre-Deux-MersThis expansive region is not really between two seas; the name refers to the two rivers that roughly form the northern and southern limits of the region. This is the source of a tremendous quantity of value Bordeaux, and produces some of the best values in Bordeaux Blanc. This is a relatively warm region in Bordeaux with rich soils that allow for perfectly ripe Sauvignon Blanc, so you can expect your Entre Deux Mers to be heavy on the fresh, crisp Sauv – perfect wines for summer picnics, shellfish, and light dishes like salads or even brunch. Since these wines are predominantly Sauvignon Blanc, they are generally made in a style that encourages early enjoyment.
GravesThe Graves was named for its distinctly gravelly soil. This soil, and the low lying areas that form the region, make the Graves a relatively cool region, yielding wines, Sauvignon Blanc in particular, that can be a little lean and firm. The solution? Add more Semillon of course! By upping the percentage of Semillon, the producers of the Graves can produce rich, balanced wines that benefit from some time in the cellar. In fact, because it is well known that Semillon blossoms with time, many of these wines are made in a style that demands some aging. The use of barrel aging is not uncommon here and gives the wines layers of flavors and an added richness, making them ideal for richer chicken and pork dishes and a perfect complement for dishes where cream plays an important role.
Pessac-LeognanThis small region, carved out of the larger Graves region in 1987, contains all of Graves Grand Cru Classes. It’s a region that has the best of both the Entre Deux Mers and Graves. Poorer soils yet and a slightly warmer climate than most of Graves make this ideal country for the production of white wines. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find wines with relatively even ratios of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc here. These are the stars of Bordeaux Blanc, and are sometimes a bit value-challenged. They are wines that drink well young and age well. In general these are the wines that have given Bordeaux Blanc such an amazing reputation; they're complex, rich, balanced wines that age well for decades in many cases.
Now you don’t have to know all of that to enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux Blanc, but it can help to make sure you end up with a bottle that you’re going enjoy. The truth is it’s pretty simple after all, since Bordeaux Blanc can be so layered, fresh and food friendly, it's sometimes hard to go wrong adding one to your table!