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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Bordeaux White for a Summer Feast

Château Carbonnieux Pessac-Léognan White 2006

Thomas Matthews
Posted: September 1, 2010

In August, the New York City Greenmarkets hit their peak, with an intoxicating profusion of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Can there ever be too many ripe tomatoes? Sara and I took advantage with a meal of heirloom tomato salad, steamed corn and wild striped bass from Blue Moon, the wonderful fishermen who bring their catch from Long Island.

A simple meal, but rich with flavor, so we wanted a wine that was direct but deep, and chose a white Bordeaux from the area of the Graves now called Pessac-Léognan. This is a relatively new appellation (created in 1987), but Carbonnieux has one of the longest winemaking histories in Bordeaux; according to its website, Thomas Jefferson visited the property in 1786, at which time it was already famous for its white wines. The estate has been owned by the Perrin family since 1956, and in 1959 was ranked a Cru Classé in the Graves for both its red and whites.

This white is a blend of mostly Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, typical for the region; after fermentation in stainless-steel vats, the wine is aged in barrel for around nine months. We opened a 2006 (a gift from a guest at a party we threw several months ago). The wine was intensely aromatic, grassy and herbal. It was firm on the palate, lean and focused with a mouthwatering mix of citrus, briny, herbal and lanolin flavors. Not a fruit bomb at all, but a bracing accompaniment to the food. I rated it 88 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Château Carbonnieux Pessac-Léognan White 2006 (88, $36).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more white Bordeaux.

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