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Jan 3, 2012 09:25 AM

white Bordeaux for laying down.

I am looking to for a quality case for my first real hold for 10year cellar. I am looking for at least 25% Semillon that will grow into that awesome amber/gold color. I don't want to spend over $300 for the case and would really like under.

Should I start with something that already has some years on it, or has there been a recent vintage with good press?


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  1. The 2007 is one of Barsac/Sauternes best recent vintage with the 2009 even better! Unfortunately, with your set budget of $300, you will be hard pressed to get a case, even a 2nd Growth or the 2nd wine of first growth like Rieussec.. As such, for the 2007 or 2009, I would either search for obscure lesser known producers or settle for a slightly off vintage year like the 2006. I believe you 'might be able to' get a case of the 2nd growth d'Arche or de Malle?!
    BTW, have you consider a case of 'half bottles' instead?! More affordable and easier to consume!

    1. Do you want a sweet wine or a dry wine?
      Dry white Bordeaux is not known for being a good ager.
      The only sauvignon blanc I like is from St. Bris in Burgundy or from Greystack Vineyard in Bennett Valley. If I were going to try to age dry sauvignon blanc, I'd look at stuff from Sancerre in the Loire. Producers like Cotat, Boulay, Mellot and especially the late Didier Dagueneau, which is from Pouilly-Fume, not Sancerre. Since he died, $300 will get you about three bottles of Didier's wine now.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        I had a bottle of the 2008 Didier Dagueneau Silex last year, which set me back $100. It was fine, but not something I would pay $100 for again.

        By the way, when you say you wouldn't age a dry white Bordeaux, what do you think is the drink by date? I'm sitting on a 2008 bottle of Chateau Brown and two bottles of 2006 YGrec, although I understand the YGrec's are agers.

        By the way to the OP, I paid $40 for the Chateau Brown, which is "bargain" white Bordeaux, so I don't think you are going to find a case of anything for $300.

        1. re: omotosando

          Sorry, I know next to nothing about Bordeaux. I remember sitting in on conversations where wine geeks complained that a middling Sancerre aged better than white Bordeaux and it was a fraction of the price.

          By the way, in mentioning top-notch Sancerre producers I neglected to mention Hippolyte Reverdy.

      2. Aging French whites (especially) takes a bit of experience and trial and error. They can age MAGNIFICENTLY but usually not for 300 bucks a case unless you have alot of experience in choosing wine to age.

        If you are really looking for FR, then Graves (Pessac-Léognan) are classic agers although you must choose the less expensive ones carefully or they won't hold up well. I would not think a decent case of wine for aging for 300 dollars is possible today.............. 300 dollars will not buy one bottle of a classic Graves white.

        The White Burgs, I won't even mention because not only is the price is sky high per bottle for great agers....they have not aged well since the 1990's due to premox. I am fortunate, I still have some from the 1980's and they are fabulous. If you want to try a well aged white will need to buy it from an auction or collector at this point.

        California whites can be amazing agers. One of my favorite CA whites is from Kalin Cellars (Chard) which historically has made 10 years beautifully. I don't know about their prices now, I haven't bought any to age for many years.

        On the extreme high end, I am drinking some Haut-Brion Blanc now that is 40 years old and still has some fruit -although minimal and not for long. It is on the downhill slide. Whites "age out" much faster than reds. If you are not used to the taste of aged whites, you might not even like them.
        Semillion when aged tastes a bit waxy (sort of like chap stick) or petrol or tobacco. It often takes true "white wine lovers" *aback* as it tastes nothing like a new, fresh, white. Maybe you already know you love them, but it is something to think about. People tend to like aged Chard a bit better as it has buttery and honey notes. Be sure to think about the characteristics of the end product that you want before purchasing. Aged whites allow the back notes to come forward....all the way to the front. Aging whites properly require a colder cellar than reds.

        18 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          I am looking for the SV blanc-Semillon blend only in this case or maybe 1/2 a case. Dry. Maybe if i bump up the price ceiling to $500 for 1/2 case? Does that give me better options?


          1. re: budnball

            That would get you a half-case of white Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte '07. Though Sauternes is legendary for its aging potential, I think well-made, dry white Bordeaux gains tremendous complexity with aging, and has a great track record in doing so. The Smith Haut Lafitte would give you solid aging (presuming good provenance/shipping).

            1. re: chefdilettante

              I absolutely love Smith Haut Lafitte blanc with about 8-10 years on it, maybe even a touch longer in brilliant vintages. Nice pick Chef.

              1. re: ellaystingray

                Me, too. I was hoping someone would mention it.

                Please also see these threads on this wine:

                Smith Haut Lafite White Bordeaux 2001- If this is wine, what have I been drinking?


                1. re: maria lorraine

                  I know, that bottle got me started and I really can't afford to replace it. Been chasing that puppy for a bit now.

            2. re: budnball

              These are just from memory of great wines at lesser expense per bottle that I have in my cellar. I don't know current prices for these, so I might be steering you out of your range but you might want to check out: Ch de Fieuzal Blanc, Ch Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier (this one is a favorite), Laville-Haut-Brion (this one is another favorite). All would be great agers for 10 years.

                1. re: sedimental

                  The Fiezual, for instance, was out of his price range with the 2001 vintage.
                  The Carbonnieux is only slightly out of his range
                  He can buy a whole three bottles of the Chevalier
                  Laville-Haut-Brion underwent a name change. At the current price, he could afford a 375ml bottle with $300, if he found it on sale.

                  1. re: SteveTimko

                    Hmm I may be over my head with this one. Maybe I should look into an Aussie version. I really cannot justify $100 a bottle for any wine to myself. Think I will head up to K&L for some advise.

                          1. re: SteveTimko

                            Aged Sancere is nothing at all like an aged bordeaux sb/semillon blend. So I suspect that budnball would be disappointed in the result.

                          2. re: budnball

                            Yes. Bordeaux is expensive. This is why I also suggested some quality CA wines. Personally, I would choose some quality CA wines to lay down over Aussie wines. But, that is just my own experience and taste preference.

                            I have had some fabulous aging results with whites from Kalin Cellars, Stony Hill and Sonoma Cutrer. I think your idea of going to K&L is a good one. Either way, you will need to pay out some cash for the quality of wine that will improve over the course of many years. As a "generality" -almost all wines under 50 bucks are made to drink today. Most wines under 100 bucks are made to drink in the very near future. You are looking for a wine made to drink (IMPROVE) a *decade* are looking for a different animal.

                            1. re: sedimental

                              "As a "generality" -almost all wines under 50 bucks are made to drink today."

                              Doesn't it depend on the varietal?

                              Last year I had a 2009 Huët Vouvray Clos du Bourg Sec, a $28 wine which the New York Times had rated best of a Vouvray tasting, and I didn't enjoy it all. I was later told the problem is that it was too young and you need to age a Vouvray for many years.

                              1. re: omotosando

                                Sure. That is why it is a "generality".

                                There will always be exceptions.However, most winemakers (in general) do not expect their customers to purchase wines for 28 dollars -and not touch them for decades. Chenin blanc is made for aging. If you can find a great one for a great price....lay it down! It would be much more difficult to find a great Semillion for that price to lay down.

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  Since the OP wants to lay down white wines and doesn't want to spend more than $300 a case, it sounds like he should look into Chenin Blanc. Or if he wants to lay down white Bordeaux, he should be thinking of one or two bottles, not a case.

                                  As for me, I'd rather collect a few good bottles, then cases of cheaper stuff. Even some of my wealthier friends who are laying down cases of expensive stuff are sheepishly admitting that they have so much, they will never consume it in their lifetimes and their children will be fighting about it.

                              2. re: sedimental

                                K&L has the 1998 Kalin Semillon (75% Sem/25% SB) now for $28. I haven't tasted it but recall seeing a tasting note from a friend not too long ago that praised it. The old Sems from Kalin that I have tried are wonderful with that beeswax richness that I think the OP is looking for.


                    1. 2005 La Louviere Pessac-Leognan blanc is $9.99 at Grocery Outlet. The list price was in the $45-50 range or so. Some stores still have it --- I saw some in Rohnert Park less than 2 weeks ago. Here's where we were talking about it on the SF board.

                      This gives you some extra bottle age so you can enjoy them sooner and it's a very fine vintage. Semillon is 15% of the blend. Tasting it the first time I thought it was higher as the mouthfeel is so dense, but then I read that batonnage was employed to lend more texture and creaminess. The wine is a bit reduced now (screw-cap) but the nose cleans up with aeration. I had tasted it in the morning, then left a half-glass out till the evening and it was much better. Showed even better after recapping and leaving in the fridge overnight, so this wine can hold and improve for some time yet, judging from that "forced aging".

                      With half a case of this, you can afford to spend more for your other six bottles to lay down and come close to your budget.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Thanx for the suggestion. I will be at the San Jose store this am!

                        1. re: budnball

                          I also saw the wine at the Salinas and Marina Grocery Outlet stores last month.

                          And after posting last night, I went to the fridge to revisit the 1/3 full bottle of La Louviere that I opened in November and kept for cooking wine. The color's still light and bright after all this time. The grassy aroma subsided but the acidity's still quite lively and the citrus flavors persist. This wine's going to live a long time in the cellar but you can also enjoy it now. Just be sure to give it enough time in the glass to open up the aromas and get ride of the rubber tire reductive notes.

                      2. Got good advice and several choices to work with from the gang at K&L. From $19-36 they showed me 3 bottles that would age well for 10 years and in a price I can handle. Since there is no hurry, I am taste testing them separately starting with the '10 Chateau L'Avocat, a 50% Semillon,40% SV Blanc, 10%Sauvignon Gris.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: budnball

                          If you are seriously interested in Sémillon, you may want to check out L'Ecole No. 41 from Washington, or Kalin and Ahlgren from California.

                          From Bordeaux, only a handful of DRY white Bordeaux are Sémilion-dominant. Don't overlook the *dry* white Bordeaux produced by the châteaux in Sauternes. True, Château Y (from Château d'Yquem) is out of your price range, but look for wines like Château R (from Rieussec) or G (Giraud), among others.