La Fleur Garderose, Vin de France Blanc
Christophe’s La Fleur Garderose Blanc is pure Sauvignon Blanc that tastes vividly of its variety and its limestone origins, yet it is quite different from any white Bordeaux you may have encountered. After pressing, Christophe allows the must to brown completely, then regain its color—an old Burgundian technique that lets him refrain from sulfuring. The wine is both fermented and aged in used 600-liter barrels, and—rare for a Sauvignon Blanc this day and age—it goes through malolactic fermentation. Drinking this, and reveling in its luscious, crunchy texture, one wonders if some of the more typical “Sauvignon Blanc” signifiers that sometimes feel a bit much (intense gooseberry, over-the-top citrus notes) aren’t a result of producers forcibly preventing malo. The nose explodes (but not in that sometimes vulgar “Sauvignon Blanc” way) with quinine, lime pith, white peach, and wet rocks, and the palate is both caressing and linear—a back-and-forth of creamier elements and more rigorously acid/mineral-driven elements. There’s a real vibrant, resinous quality here that makes one think of healthy, juicy, concentrated fruit, and its sheer deliciousness is undeniable. It’s a captivating wine, mineral-driven yet extraordinarily texturally satisfying, and its ultra-low sulfur level (less than 30 milligrams per liter total) allows a certain purity of fruit to come to the fore; one gets the impression here of biting into a bunch of perfectly ripe Sauvignon Blanc grapes.