1947 Carbonnieux Blanc


Mature white Bordeaux is rarely discussed and, to be honest, rarely tasted. In my own experience, lunches or dinners commencing with a venerable Bordeaux Blanc are as regular as Halley’s comet. That’s a pity, because whenever they do form the opening act, they offer pertinent reminders of their quality. A bottle of 1947 Carbonnieux Blanc was recently served blind in, of all places, a private supper in Beaune. In the postwar period, this Graves estate belonged to Monsieur J-J Chabrat. Certainly this bottle is my solitary encounter with a Carbonnieux from this era. It is difficult to find the blend, although with some digging around, I determined that it would have been around 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Sémillon. As seen in the photograph below, the bottle sported a small neck label with sage advice on how it should be served, indicating that it was distributed to merchants rather than for solely personal consumption like some Graves properties.

In the decanter you might mistake it for a red, so deep is its color. The bouquet is oxidative, nutty and arresting – no shy and retiring flower. The aromatics grab the olfactory senses by the lapels and demand attention, while a light acrid smoky note lies in the background. The palate is underpinned by razor-sharp acidity, which was why I was astonished when the vintage famous for its hot summer and low acidity was revealed. Again, the 1947 is oxidative but very complex, offering grilled walnuts, tobacco, sour lemon, Seville orange marmalade and a potent saline element. In some ways this is an uncompromising white Graves that doesn’t give two hoots whether it’s liked or not. On its own it might be too much, but partnered with delicious salmon and a white fish terrine, it makes a beautiful marriage. I would not leave this much longer, so if you do chance upon a bottle, just fetch a corkscrew and enjoy. 90/Drink: 2019-2019.