With this summer being an interesting one—to say the least—I’ve been making the most of time spent outdoors. From the backyard pool to my lush garden to the serene beach, I’ve constantly been outside soaking up every bit of normalcy and sun I can get. Last weekend, I was strutting around the yard in some new outfits (I seem to be buying more crap these days), working on Instagram reels and sipping on Château Carbonnieux Pessac-Léognan 2016.
Originating in the 13th century, this estate has a LONG history, well chronicled here, with monks, wars, and Thomas Jefferson. One of their reputation markers dates back to the 18th century, when it was served to the Sultan of Constantinople as “mineral water from Carbonnieux” so as to not break the Islamic restriction of serving alcohol (that’s my kind of “water”). I would try to paraphrase their vast history, but I would seriously butcher it.
This wine is made up of two grapes. The first Sauvignon Blanc (65%)—which dominates on deep gravel soils, and, in order to lend greater expression to the wine, it is also planted in fine gravel and in clay-limestone soils. And then we have Sémillon (35%)—which is planted only in clay-limestone soils, lending the wine fleshiness and complex aromas.
Today, Château Carbonnieux practices sustainable agriculture for all its vineyard practices, so chemical insecticides, weed killers, and acaricides are banned and replaced by environmentally friendly methods (they’re very into biodiversity). When it comes to the grapes, harvest is only done by hand is entrusted to locals who are familiar with the vineyards. When it comes to the winemaking process, this wine was aged in 25% new oak barrels.
I was excited to open this one because I realized that I don’t really drink whites from Bordeaux frequently. The wine was pale yellow in color and had an interesting nose—Sean noticed, which he never does. It was full of honeysuckle, lemon, and vanilla. It had a nice acidity, good mouthfeel, with added notes of baked pear, peach, and a salitness/minerality quality to it. As I learned in WSET Level 2, the Sémillon adds structure and complexity, which I totally got with this wine. It was deliciously paired with grilled lobster. Cellaring advice is 4–8 years, so I drank it on the younger side of the spectrum. I found it at Costco (my happy place) for under $35, but I’ve seen it online from $45-$55. I’d call that a Costco win.