A PRIVILEGED TERROIR
The Sauternes Appellation covers near to 2,000 hectares over five villages: Barsac, Bommes, Fargues, Preignac and Sauternes.
This wine-producing region offers visitors an undulating landscape where its gently sloping hillsides seem to be complacently exposed to the sunlight.
This is why Chateau La Tour Blanche, along with most of the classified growths («Crus Classés») of the appellation, is located on a fine hilltop position, 60m above sea level.
This advantageous position facilitates having the best possible exposure to sunlight, optimal drainage of the land and specific soils. All of those give wines a
special character. Indeed, this alluvial land (deposits originating from The Garonne), is made up of a gravelly surface soil and an argillaceous-calcareous substratum.
THREE TRADITIONAL GRAPE VARIETIES The three traditional grape varieties of the Sauternes A.O.C. are Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.
At Chateau La Tour Blanche they are planted in the right proportions: 83% Sémillon, 12% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle. Each grape-variety provides the wine with its own specific qualities and characteristics, in a harmonious and always unique blend.
Semillon gives the wine its golden colour and its specific dry fruits, candied fruits and honey aromas.
Sauvignon Blanc produces a very fine, full bodied, particularly aromatic wine, and brings a pleasant freshness to the blend.
The Muscadelle grape is a part of the unique style of the wines produced by the property. It adds some aromatic complexity due to its delicate scent of muscat grape and its exotic and spicy notes.
RIGOROUS VINEYARD MANAGEMENT“One can only make good wine from good grapes”. With this proverb in mind La Tour Blanche team is aware that the work behind producing a great vintage starts in the vineyard and carries on through the year.
Apart from the unpredictable climatic conditions it is this rigorous vineyard management which determines the quality of the grape berry, so the quality of the wine.
For several years now, Château La Tour Blanche has been applying its policy of using specific work methods in order to respect the environment.
In parallel to public guidelines, the Château has decided to set up a rigorous contract regarding the environment. Since a few years, the Chateau has taken some advance by setting up some concrete actions, like effluents treatment, spray containment, as well as a lot of experimentation, particularly concerning the protection of the vineyard and managed according to organic methods.
These ambitious choices which unite the château and its environment have emerged quite naturally and have led to concrete recognition; Indeed, Château La Tour Blanche is certified HVE 3 (High Environmental Values) and is a member of the first association for The Environmental Management System (SME) for Bordeaux Wine certified ISO 14001.
THE NOBLE ROT
Harvesting is probably the time of the year the winegrower apprehends the most. Having carefully worked all year round he now has to face up to the goodwill and mildness of the weather. In Sauternes, the right climatic conditions are, perhaps, of more vital importance than anywhere else. This microclimate is due to the appellation’s unique geographical situation. It is the encounter between the warm waters of The Garonne River and its colder tributary, The Ciron that accounts for the early morning mists which occur as of the end of August.
At the time of the year when the early autumn weather is characterized by mild and sunny days, these mists bring high humidity level which, when combined with the ambient heat, encourages the development of botrytis cinerea. This microscopic fungus develops on the surface of the berry and pierces the fruit, thanks to its mycelium, provoking what is known as Noble Rot. At physiological maturity, the affected grapes first take on a brown speckled-like appearance. The berries then progressively change colour and are covered with a velvety protective coat. At this point we can say they are fully rotten («pourris pleins»). Finally, due to complete evaporation of the berries’ water content, they shrivel up and reach the stage described as «roti» or candied rotten («pourris confits») as they look like, and particularly taste like, crystallized fruit. It is only at this point that the actual picking may begin.
Like all estates in the appellation, the harvesting is done by a series of selective pickings meaning that the grape-pickers must go several times through the rows of vines (on average four to six times) picking only bunches of grapes, part of bunches or in some cases, even just the individual berries that have been truly affected by the botrytis cinerea.
This rather irregular work pattern, the climatic conditions and the rate at which the noble rot develops, means the harvest takes about 30 days over a period of 2 months to complete.
Due to this strict and meticulous selection process, it is easy to understand why a harvesting machine could never find its place here in Sauternes.
WHEN SCARCITY MAKES SENSE
All the effort and patience given to a vine plant during the growing season will produce only the equivalent of one glass of this precious wine. At Château La Tour Blanche scarcity makes sense.
Keep this in mind when you taste the wine.
1 vine = 1 glass