Decanter experts gives their verdict, tasting notes and drinking windows on Graves & Pessac whites 2012.

Graves & Pessac whites 2012

Bordeaux’s red wines invariably steal the limelight from the whites, but the dry styles from these prestigious appellations offer exciting value drinking. Jane Anson reports

The crus classés and Pessac-Léognans fared best, with the Graves AC entries more inconsistent, but all the wines came under scrutiny by our panel for their oak use. Nevertheless, 16 wines were rated highly-recommended by our expert judges – see them all here…

Dry white wine in Bordeaux – which tends to be clustered around entre-deux-Mers, Blaye-Cotes de Bordeaux and Pessac-léognan/Graves – is experiencing a sales boom, with a 31% climb in overseas markets over the past five years, now standing at 47% export overall, compared to just under 40% for Bordeaux as a whole. The prestigious regions of Graves and Pessac léognan have done much to contribute to this success.

Bordeaux whites from the Right Bank and entre-deux- Mers are almost invariably early drinkers, whereas those from the left Bank (so Graves and particularly Pessacléognan; the only region where the best white wines have received a cruclassé ranking), should be capable of ageing and improving in complexity in bottle for five to 10 years, or longer. Because production is small, prices have risen for classified whites over the past few years, but they are rarely seen as investment wines in the way that white Burgundy is, with a few exceptions (la Mission haut-Brion Blanc and its sister haut-Brion Blanc, and perhaps a few other sure-value picks such as Domaine de Chevalier).

White Bordeaux is an exciting area where much research into varietal aromas and the importance of effective viticulture and vinification techniques has been done at the Institute of Oenology. The results have been widely disseminated through the vineyards, meaning that as a category Graves and Pessac-léognan should offer good value for money, and real drinking pleasure.