The style of white wines has changed enormously over the past years: in the eighties, there were very few exceptions to bland mediocrity; but at the beginning of the nineties, a complete revolution took place. This was the beginning of the Golden Age of barrel-vinified white wines, where the lees gave richness and aroma to the wines. These generous, ample, toasty, buttery, rich and often heavy wines dominated the market for 15 years. The term “oak-aged” became a marketing tool in itself … but translated into greatness only in very few areas, notably Burgundy.
This is the opinion of France’s two great wine-writers, Bettane & Desseauve, published in the latest issue of Terre de Vins.
“The heart of the vineyard is now the topic of discussion, the means of getting there, rather than the end in itself” they added. “Issues like the ideal maturity of the grape, and words like ‘freshness, purity, cristaline,precision’ are the keys to the future development of white wine.”
White wines still have an image problem, according to these experts, partly based on the erroneous assumption that it ‘gives headaches’ – whereas the misuse of sulphates (or possible over-drinking …) is the real culprit.
In order to redress the situation, Terre de Vins devoted a large portion of its March-April issue to White Wines. It is interesting to note that under the heading “The Whites with Freshness”, the only two wines selected from the Languedoc were both from Limoux: one of them the Chateau Rives-Blanques chenin blanc, Dédicace.