The Pope of White Wine
Is the title often used to illustrate the significance of Denis Dubourdieu on Bordeaux and the wine world in general. His resume is long and impressive: vineyard owner and winemaker, scientist, professor of enology at the University of Bordeaux, and more. He and his partner, his wife Florence, began planning Clos Floridene over thirty years ago starting with a small plot of land with 5 acres of planted vines. Subsequent purchases of adjacent vineyards has expanded the estate to over a hundred acres. A great loss, Denis passed away much too soon in 2016. Thankfully, his work and legacy is being carried forth by Florence and their two sons, Fabrice and Jean-Jacques.
Clos Floridene is located in Pujols sur Ciron within the appellation of Graves, across the highway from Barsac (thanks for the geography lesson Pete!). The vineyard extends a thin layer of red clay sand over limestone subsoils. This is favorable terroir for white wines as the porous limestone plateau helps to reduce hydric stress. The blend for the 2019 is 45% Sauvignon Blanc and 55% Semillon and is aged on the lees in barrel and large wood vats for about nine months.
It was an exciting day at the shop, the day we sampled several red Bordeaux and the Clos Floridene. It is a rare occasion to sample a dry, white Bordeaux. After all, less than 10% of total production in Bordeaux fits in this category. My first memory of tasting one was at a luncheon with the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild who was introducing the Aile d'Argent to the San Francisco market many, many years ago. I distinctly remember the flavor profile of that wine, and to this day wonder why more people don't drink white Bordeaux. Of course, price could be an obstacle as some of the most famous ones can be hundreds of dollars a bottle. Delightedly, the Clos Floridene is a steal. It offers richness along with a racy backbone. I really enjoy the texture of Semillon, and it shines through this wine lending an unctuous and rich mid-palate. The acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc nicely balances out the richness with freshness and attack. The white grapefruit, blood orange and pineapple fruit flavors are in balance and harmonious. The deft use of oak adds complexity and dimension. What an impressive wine!
- Anya Balistreri