Chapter2.4.1 General View on Wine – Superior White Wines

This chapter is dedicated to Superior White Wines from France – only due to the fact that they alone ( in My humble opinion ) established a standard in quality !

We’ll have a review of the most famous white wines and a few examples :

White wines in Bordeaux were also ranked. One (present-day Chateau d’Yquem) was uniquely ranked above all others in its own category, that of Premier Cru Superieur (Superior First Growth). There were 11 First Growths and 12 Second Growth white wines. These, too, were established entirely on the basis of recent prices in 1855.

Within two years of the classification system being published, wine sales by the classified producers increased by 250 percent.

Château d’Yquem –  Premier Cru Superior

Chateau d’Yquem

Château d’Yquem  is a Premier Cru Supérieur (Fr: “Great First Growth”) wine from the Sauternes, Gironde region in the southern part of the Bordeaux vineyards known as Graves. In the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, Château d’Yquem was the only Sauternes given this rating, indicating its perceived superiority and higher prices over all other wines of its type. Yquem’s success stems largely from the site’s susceptibility to attack by “noble rot” (Botrytis cinerea).

Wines from Château d’Yquem are characterised by their complexity, concentration and sweetness. A relatively high acidity helps to balance the wine’s sweetness. Another characteristic for which Château d’Yquem wines are known is their longevity. With proper care, a bottle will keep for a century or more. During this time, the fruity overtones will gradually fade and integrate with more complex secondary and tertiary flavours.

Since 1959 (though not every year), Château d’Yquem has also produced a dry white wine called Ygrec (Fr: the letter “Y”), made from an equal blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Old bottle of Chateau d’Yquem

History

Château d’Yquem itself was acquired by Jacques de Sauvage in December of 1593. De Sauvage acquired the property from the French monarchy by exchanging other lands that he owned for what was then referred to as the ‘House of Yquem’. The site has been home to a vineyard since at least 1711 when the estate became fully owned by Léon de Sauvage d’Yquem. In 1785 it passed to the Lur-Saluces family when Françoise-Joséphine de Sauvage d’Yquem married Count Louis-Amédée de Lur-Saluces, a godson of Louis XV and Lady Victoire de France. Monsieur Lur-Saluces died three years later, and his wife subsequently focused her energy on sustaining and improving the estate.

While Minister Plenipotentiary to France, Thomas Jefferson visited the château and later wrote, “Sauterne. This is the best white wine of France and the best of it is made by Monsieur de Lur-Saluces.” Jefferson ordered 250 bottles of the 1784 vintage for himself, and additional bottles for George Washington. However, at that time the technique of allowing noble rot to infect grapes had not yet been discovered, so the wine Jefferson was drinking was a different sweet wine.[citation needed]

The 1811 Château d’Yquem, a comet vintage, has exhibited what wine experts like Robert Parker have described as exceptional longevity with Parker scoring the wine a perfect 100 points when tasted in 1996.

Premier Crus

Château La Tour Blanche

Chateau La Tour Blanche

Château La Tour Blanche, or La Tour-Blanche, is a sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Belonging to the Sauternes appellation in Gironde, in the region of Graves, the winery is located in the commune of Bommes.

Uniquely among classed growth wineries, the estate is the property of the French state, and the site of the La Tour Blanche School of Viticulture and Oenology.

Chateau La Tour Blanche bottle

History

Records date the estate’s origins to the 18th century, and connect them to Jean Saint-Marc du Latourblanche, treasurer-general to Louis XIV. Following the French Revolution, the estate was owned by Pierre Pécherie, but a later owner, the German Frederic Focke raised the reputation of the winery, and was for a period credited with bringing the tradition of sweet white wine to Sauternes from his Rhine origins. After the rewarding outcome of the 1855 Classification and Focke’s death, the estate was eventually acquired by Daniel “Osiris” Iffla who among several patrotic acts, testamented La Tour Blanche to the State upon his death in 1907, on the condition it would become an agricultural college. From 1911, the La Tour Blanche School of Viticulture and Oenology has been responsible for education and training of wine industry professionals, as well as running La Tour Blanche as a classed winery.

Production

The estate contains 65 hectares with grape varieties of 83% Sémillon, 12% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle, as well as a smaller cultivation of the red grape varieties Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Annual production averages 4,000 cases of La Tour Blanche, in addition to the Second wine Les Charmilles de La Tour Blanche, annually averaging 1,250 cases.

In smaller quantities, the estate produces the dry white wine Les Jardins de Thinoy, the dry white wine Isis, the demi-sec Osiris, and the red wine Cru de Cinquet.

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey is a Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) Sauternes wine from the Sauternes appellation. The winery is located in the southern part of France’s Bordeaux wine region in the district of Graves in the commune of Bommes, and its château is situated on a hill top facing Sauternes’ highest classed vineyard, Château d’Yquem.

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey produces a second wine, La Chapelle de Lafaurie, and a dry white wine, Le Brut de Lafaurie.

Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey bottle

History

Built as a fortified keep in the 13th century, the structure then known as Château Pichard served as a military post until it was sold to the gentlemen Lafaurie and Mauros as a national asset following the French Revolution. Faurie bought sole ownership and began wine production initially under the name Château Pichard-Faurie, and eventually as Lafaurie-Peyraguey, the reasons behind the altered name uncertain. The reputation and price of the wine came to merit third placement at the 1855 classification of Sauternes and Barsac directly behind Yquem and La Tour Blanche. Following the death of Lafaurie, it was sold by his widow in 1865 to Comte Duchâtel, then owner of Château Lagrange, given to his wife, and after her death the estate saw numerous changes to its property lines. Bought by the Cordier family in 1917, the winery has since been rebuilt to constitute a modern estate.

Production

The grape variety distribution is 90 % of Sémillon, 5 % of Sauvignon blanc and 5 % of Muscadelle. The vineyard area extends 40 hectares (99 acres), with an average production of 6000-7000 cases per year.

Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey

Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey

Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey is a sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Belonging to the Sauternes appellation in Gironde, in the region of Graves, the winery is located in the commune of Bommes.

Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey bottle

Château de Rayne-Vigneau

Chateau de Reine-Vigneau

Château de Rayne-Vigneau is a sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Belonging to the Sauternes appellation in Gironde, in the region of Graves, the winery is located in Bommes. It has been owned by Crédit Agricole since 2004.

Chateau de Reyne-Vigneau bottle

Château Suduiraut

Chateau Suduiraut

Château Suduiraut, formerly Cru du Roy and Château de Suduiraut, is a sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Belonging to the Sauternes appellation in Gironde, in the region of Graves, the winery is located in Preignac, adjacent to Château d’Yquem .

Chateau Suduiraut bottle & label

Château Coutet

Chateau Coutet

Château Coutet is a Premier Cru Classé (French: First Growth) sweet wine from the Sauternes-Barsac appellation located in Barsac, in the southern part of France’s Bordeaux vineyards. Château Coutet is one of the oldest Sauternes producing vineyards, and is described by David Peppercorn as a “twin” of Barsac’s other Premier cru estate, Château Climens.

Coutet also produces a second wine, Chartreuse de Coutet, a dry white wine named Vin Sec de Chateau Coutet and a cuvée in vintages of exceptional quality, Cuvée Madame.

Chateau Coutet bottle & label

History

The estate was acquired in 1643 by Charles le Guerin, Lord of Coutet, a counselor at the Bordeaux parliament. In 1695 he passed the estate on to his nephew, Jean le Pichard, whose descendants owned Coutet until 1788. It was at this time that the former US president Thomas Jefferson noted Coutet as the best Sauternes originating from Barsac.

Coutet was later acquired by Gabriel-Barthelemy-Romain de Filhot, president of the Bordeaux parliament and a cousin of the former owner. As a consequence of the French Revolution, Château Coutet was seized by the state in 1794 and de Filhot was beheaded. Château Coutet was inherited later on by Marquis Romain Bertrand de Lur Saluces, son of Marie-Geneviève de Filhot and Antoine-Marie de Lur Saluces. De Lur Saluces was also at the time owner of Château d’Yquem, Château Filhot and Château de Malle and thus the largest producer of sweet white wines in the world.

Château Coutet remained under the care of the de Lur Saluces family until 1923. At this point Henry-Louis Guy, a hydraulic wine press manufacturer from Lyon, purchased Château Coutet. This transaction separated the estate from Château d’Yquem. Guy equipped the winery with his vertical presses, still used today at each harvest. In 1977, the Baly family purchased the property remaining present day owners. In 1994, Coutet signed an agreement with Philippine de Rothschild giving exclusive distribution rights to Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A.

Château Climens

Chateau Climens

Château Climens is a Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) Sauternes wine producer from the Barsac appellation. The estate is located in the southern part of France’s Bordeaux wine region in the district of Graves, an eighth of a mile away from Barsac’s other most historically rated vineyard, Château Coutet.

It is a wine characteristically known as better when young, though in its greatest years at the height of finesse. The vintages 1929, 1947 and 1949 were described by Alexis Lichine to surpass Château d’Yquem as “lighter, with less vinosity and body, yet miraculously subtle.”

Château Climens also produces a second wine named Cypres de Climens.

Chateau Climens

History

The name Climens, appeared for the first time on a contract dated 1547, the name in the local dialect meaning “unfertile, poor land”. The Roborel family were responsible for expanding the estate, initiating viticulture in the 17th century, and oversaw the production of both white and red wine. In 1855, Monsieur Henri Gounouilhou bought the property, in the year Climens was classified a Premier Cru. It remained the property of the Gounouilhou family until Lucien Lurton of Château Brane-Cantenac bought the estate in 1971, along with Château Doisy-Dubroca. It has been run by his daughter, Bérénice Lurton, since 1992.

Château Guiraud

Chateau Guiraud

Château Guiraud is a sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Belonging to the Sauternes appellation in Gironde, in the region of Graves, the winery is located in the commune of Sauternes. The estate vine plantings consist of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are on average 35–40 years old.

Chateau Guiraud

Interestingly enough I met someone called Guiraud , back in 1991 in Prigonrieux , close to Bergerac – Dordogne….at that particular time I was not interested in wines so much ( I was still young , only 17 and having totally other stuff going through my mind … ) .

Château Rieussec

Chateau Rieussec

Château Rieussec is a sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Belonging to the Sauternes appellation in Gironde, in the region of Graves, the winery is located in the commune of Fargues.

Chateau Rieussec

History

The Rieussec estate was the property of the monks of Carmes de Langon in the 18th century. Following the French revolution, church property was confiscated by the state and auctioned off. In about 1790, Rieussec was bought in this fashion by a Mr. Marheilhac, who at this time was also the owner of Château La Louvière in Léognan. The owner at the time of the 1855 classification, when Rieussec was classified a first growth, was a Mr. Mayne. After that, Rieussec had a long succession of owners: Charles Crepin bought in arounbd 1870, Paul Defolie in 1892, Mr. Bannil in 1907, the Gasqueton family (also owners of Château Calon-Ségur in Saint Estèphe), the American P. F. Berry (brother-in-law of the Vicomte de Bouzet) during the war, Mr. Balaresque in 1957 and and Albert Vuillier in 1971.

In 1984, Rieussec was bought by Domaines Barons de Rothschild, the owners of Château Lafite Rothschild. The Rothschilds invested in a new cellar in 1989, and strove to increase quality by better selection of the grapes, which also led to reduced production in the 1990s. In the 1993 vintage, one of three difficult Bordeaux vintages in a row, no Château Rieussec grand vin was produced at all out of quality considerations. One of the more recent recognitions for quality was when Château Rieussec 2001 was selected as Wine Spectator‘s Wine of the Year in 2004.

Château Rabaud-Promis

Chateau Rabaud-Promis

Château Rabaud-Promis is a Bordeaux wine producer in the Sauternes appellation. Its sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. It is located in the commune of Bommes in the region of Graves. It was once joined with Château Sigalas-Rabaud in the estate named Château Rabaud.

Chateau Rabaud-Promis

History

The history of the Rabaud estate goes back to 1660, when it came into the ownership of the de Cazeau family, who were magistrates of the parliament of Bordeaux. The last de Cazeau owner, who was also mayor of Bommes, sold Rabaud in 1819 to Gabriel Deyme, who was the owner at the time of the 1855 classification. In 1863, Henri Drouilhet de Sigalas bought Rabaud and added his name to that of the property, creating Rabaud-Sigalas. He also purchased Château Pexoto, a 10 hectares (25 acres) Sauternes property classified as a deuxième cru in 1855, and absorbed it into Rabaud-Sigalas.

In 1903, Henri’s only son Pierre-Gaston de Sigalas sold the largest part of the property to Adrien Promis, creating Château Rabaud-Promis. In 1930, after a lease on the Château Sigalas-Rabaud vineyards was not renewed, the Rabaud estate was run as one with Fernand Ginestet as tenant of both Rabaud-Promis and Sigalas-Rabaud. During the 1930s and 1940s, the labels of the wine showed both names. In 1950, the Ginestet family wanted to get rid of their Rabaud holdings in order to buy Château Margaux. The descendants of the Sigalas family descendants were unwilling to own all of Rabaud, and the holdings were sold to the Dejean family, which put an end to the joint running of Rabaud, and since then the two Rabaud estates have been run separately.

Château Sigalas-Rabaud

Chateau Sigalas-Rabaud

Château Sigalas-Rabaud, previously also named Château Rabaud-Sigalas, is a Bordeaux wine producer in the Sauternes appellation. Its sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. It is located in the commune of Bommes in the region of Graves. It was once joined with Château Rabaud-Promis in the estate named Château Rabaud. With only 14 hectares (35 acres), Château Sigalas-Rabaud is the smallest of all crus classés of the 1855 classification.

Chateau Sigalas-Rabaud

History

The history of the Rabaud estate goes back to 1660, when it came into the ownership of the de Cazeau family, who were magistrates of the parliament of Bordeaux. The last de Cazeau owner, who was also mayor of Bommes, sold Rabaud in 1819 to Gabriel Deyme, who was the owner at the time of the 1855 classification. In 1863, Henri Drouilhet de Sigalas bought Rabaud and added his name to that of the property, creating Rabaud-Sigalas. He also purchased Château Pexoto, a 10 hectares (25 acres) Sauternes property classified as a deuxième cru in 1855, and absorbed it into Rabaud-Sigalas.

In 1903, Henri’s only son Pierre-Gaston de Sigalas sold the largest part of the property to Adrien Promis, creating Château Rabaud-Promis. He did however keep the part which he considered to be the best, which he called le bijou de Sigalas (“the jewel of Sigalas”), and which consisted of a gravelly hill with southern exposure. This still makes up the 14 hectares (35 acres) of vineyards of Sigalas-Rabaud. In 1913, he rented out the vineyards.

In 1930, after the lease on the vineyards was not renewed, the Rabaud estate was run as one with Fernand Ginestet as tenant of both Sigalas-Rabaud and Rabaud-Promis. During the 1930s and 1940s, the labels of the wine showed both names. However, these were difficult time for the estate, due to a number of poor vintages in the 1930s and a poor wine market during the World War. In 1950, the Ginestet family wanted to get rid of their Rabaud holdings in order to buy Château Margaux. The descendants of the Sigalas family descendants were unwilling to own all of Rabaud, and the holdings were sold to the Dejean family, which put and end to the joint running of Rabaud. On the Sigalas side, Marquis de Lambert des Granges, whose wife was of the Sigalas family, took control over Sigalas-Rabaud. He invested in a new winery and cellar. Since the marketing situation was difficult at this stage, the approach chosen was to sell it exclusively through a succession of négociant houses, including Savour Club. This resulted in income to cover the fixed costs, but meant that Sigalas-Rabaud was not part of the regular Bordeaux trade.

In 1972 the winery was incorporated as a groupement foncier agricole (GFA), with the capital coming from the four Lambert des Granges children, which was changed to a société anonyme (SA) in 1989 and a société par actions simplifiée (SAS) in 2000. From January 1995 to September 2008, there was a collaboration arrangement with Suez Group, which in 1984 had bought the Cordier Group and therefore owned the neighbouring estate of Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey.

In 2007, Laure de Lambert Compeyrot, daughter of Gerard de Lambert des Granges, took over the daily running of the estate as technical director. With the 2009 vintage, she introduced the first dry white wine of the estate.

Published on June 20, 2012 at 09:31  Leave a Comment  

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