Having received some great feedback from clients just recently, I thought it was worth revisiting our offer for the 2016 Château Gazin-Rocquencourt Blanc – a remarkably fine white Bordeaux that punches well above its weight. White Bordeaux is a tricky category to navigate as, while there are some great examples, they come in at a significant cost, and the more reasonably priced seldom impress, as they can come across a touch anodyne. Fortunately, Château Gazin-Rocquencourt has plenty of character, remains remarkably affordable and provides a stark contrast to the vast majority of wines in its category and price bracket.
I tasted the 2016 Château Gazin-Rocquencourt, offered here at £135 per 6 bottle case in bond, and was immediately impressed and I had never heard of the estate. We have since re-ordered this vintage and it has been drinking beautifully and my own case has long since disappeared! The new stock will be with us towards the middle of October.
The 30-hectare estate of Gazin-Rocquencourt can trace its origins to the 17th century – it is located on a clay/gravel hilltop on the left bank of the Eau Blanche in Léognan. The Bonnie family, owners of nearby Château Malartic-Lagravière, bought the property in 2006 and gradually went about rebalancing the vineyard and elevating the quality, understanding that their attention was most needed in the vines, which are today managed using organic and biodynamic principles. An entirely new winery followed in 2007, which is entirely gravity-fed, meaning no pumps are employed for the handling of the wine. Finally, the Château and its grounds were restored in 2008.
While the estate extends over 30 hectares, 22 are devoted to vineyard. Of this, just two and a half hectares are planted to white varietals, all of which is Sauvignon Blanc. Young Sauvignon vines can deliver impressive fruit quality, and that is clearly the case here as the vines are just eight years of age. For me though, a key point is this: many of the clones of Sauvignon Blanc employed in white Bordeaux just do not deliver interesting fruit; more recently planted vineyards are using far superior clones, carefully selected after painstaking research, to great effect. In fact, the style of the Gazin-Rocquencourt Blanc reminded me of Les Champs Libres; both are made entirely from Sauvignon Blanc from meticulously selected clones, fermented in oak and aged on lees.
Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux tends to be fermented in oak which imparts a rounder quality to the wine, taming Sauvignon’s zingy fruit, and building complexity. The Gazin-Rocquencourt is fermented in oak then aged on its lees in traditional French oak barriques, with the percentage of new oak kept to just 40%. This is an impressively crafted wine and it comes as no surprise that Michel Rolland consults to the Bonnie family on the winemaking here.
The 2016 is a joy to drink now but will age. I was really impressed by the ripe, textural fruit that hints at the exotic, though always retains its freshness and poise. There is a fine complexity here for a wine of this level, with the lees ageing having played a great role in building breadth and a textural finesse on the palate. It also reveals really impressive length with a tangy, lively finish. This is going to be fascinating as it ages, but I have failed to hold back any bottles in my first case! In many respects it is worth buying a couple of six bottle cases, one that you will enjoy all too easily now and one that you should try to hold off from broaching, to see how it matures.
I find it fascinating that there are these little gems available even in a region as well-charted as Bordeaux…to the best of my knowledge, no-one else is offering in the UK, but I was interested to read Neal Martin’s review below. Please note that the price hasn't changed since we last offered this in September 2020.