Sauvignon Gris is a pink-tinged cousin of SauvignonBlanc that was once widely planted in the Bordelais before falling out of favor because of its low yields and the increasing commercial viability of Sauvignon Blanc. Luckily, André Chatenoud still has some Gris growing in the chalk at Château de Bellevue, giving us a taste of what Bordeaux whites might have tasted like in an era past. It is just as lively and stimulating on the palate as a fine Sauvignon Blanc, but the flavors are a bit more exotic and there is no overtly grassy note. Minerals, honey, flowers, and a peppery, spicy element make this rare white a truly singular wine capable of providing many thrills as an apéritif or at table.
The good-natured proprietor of the Château de Bellevue, André Chatenoud, seems more at home in his cellars than anywhere else. Though he and his family have owned the property since 1971, the history of the château dates back to at least the 18th Century. One needs only to explore the incredible limestone caves and see the rich range of old graffiti engravings to be impressed: from harvest workers of the 1700s to American G.I.’s of the 1940s. The terroir of Château de Bellevue is characterized by exceptional quality – only surprising because the great, low prices here at Bellevue stand to shift the perceptions of what good Bordeaux should cost.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch