Susy Atkins: think you know sauvignon blanc? Try these Bordeaux blends

white wine glass
Sauvignon blanc plays a complex role in Bordeaux, often blended with the semillon grape Credit: Alamy

We might think we know our sauvignon blancs (the French Loire style is light, crisp and lemony; the stronger New World version packed with perfumed ripe gooseberry), but this popular grape plays a more complex role in Bordeaux.

A good white Bordeaux improves over several years, growing softer, toasty, more lime-marmaladey

Cheaper, modern Bordelais whites are sometimes 100% sauv blanc, but the more traditional, pricier blancs of the region are blends with the softer, lower-acid semillon grape – more nuanced, complex and versatile with food.

Sylvie Courselle runs Château Thieuley with her sister Marie. 'Each variety brings different characteristics; the semillon adding richness, body and smoky, mineral notes to the refreshing fruit of the sauvignon.’

Courselle has trotted the vinous globe, including stints in California, Australia and Burgundy, and yet she chose to return to her family winery in Bordeaux to champion the whites from this 'region of balanced, blended wines’.

A good white Bordeaux improves over several years, growing softer, toasty, more lime-marmaladey.

Courselle suggests pairing the youthful wines with white fish, scallops, oysters or fresh goat’s cheese, while those four or five years old marry beautifully with chicken in creamy sauces, or cheeses such as Comté and Beaufort. The oakier blends also match smoked fish brilliantly.

I love the texture of good white Bordeaux – subtly rounded but dry, without sweetness. If you love sauvignon blanc, the grape in this form is one of the greatest.

Try these

Château Thieuley Bordeaux Sec 2015, France The Wine Society, £8.50

A well-judged, nicely poised white with notes of citrus peel and custard cream biscuits, mainly sauv blanc and semillon with a little sauvignon gris. Great value, too.

Château Tour Léognan 2012, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France Selected Waitrose stores and Telegraph Wine, £14.99

Two-thirds sauv blanc to one-third semillon, with spicy notes of orange zest and preserved lemons, and mineral-fresh finish.

G De Guiraud 2014, Bordeaux Blanc Sec, France, £11.50

A 50:50 split between sauvignon and semillon, this is very dry with great finesse and delicacy, and leaves a lingering flavour of fresh pears.