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Latour-Martillac Blanc, Pessac-Léognan 2017

White Wine from France - Bordeaux
A yardstick for dry white Bordeaux and a convincing winner in our Wine Champions tastings, blending equal parts sauvignon blanc and semillon to give a toasty, vanilla, honeysuckle-scented wine of wondrous weight and haunting length.
Price: £37.00 Bottle
Price: £222.00 Case of 6
Low stock
Code: BW6381

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Bone dry
  • Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • Bouquet/flavour marked by oak
  • Now to 2026
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Dry White Bordeaux

The Bordeaux region is most renowned for its red wines but there are a number of excellent dry white wines, some of them amongst the most prestigious white wines in France, and indeed the world.

White wine represents little more than 10% of the output of the region, from vines grown on about 7,000 hectares. Unlike Bordeaux AC reds, whites under the simple Bordeaux appellation may come from very prestigious properties within a commune because the commune appellation rules sometimes apply only to red wine. Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux and Ygrec, the dry white wines from the legendary producers Château Margaux and Château d’Yquem respectively, can only bear the appellation Bordeaux AC despite each estates’ renown and status as a 1er grand cru classé for red wines.

As with reds under the basic Bordeaux appellations, the grapes that make white wine can come from anywhere in Bordeaux (and if made by a négociant company probably will). The principal grape varieties for Bordeaux AC...
The Bordeaux region is most renowned for its red wines but there are a number of excellent dry white wines, some of them amongst the most prestigious white wines in France, and indeed the world.

White wine represents little more than 10% of the output of the region, from vines grown on about 7,000 hectares. Unlike Bordeaux AC reds, whites under the simple Bordeaux appellation may come from very prestigious properties within a commune because the commune appellation rules sometimes apply only to red wine. Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux and Ygrec, the dry white wines from the legendary producers Château Margaux and Château d’Yquem respectively, can only bear the appellation Bordeaux AC despite each estates’ renown and status as a 1er grand cru classé for red wines.

As with reds under the basic Bordeaux appellations, the grapes that make white wine can come from anywhere in Bordeaux (and if made by a négociant company probably will). The principal grape varieties for Bordeaux AC whites are sauvignon blanc, semillon, sauvignon gris, ugni blanc and muscadelle with some smaller plantings of colombard and a little merlot blanc.

At one time semillon was the most widely planted grape variety in Bordeaux, red or white, but since public taste moved decisively to red wines it has declined and now plays second fiddle to sauvignon blanc, which has enjoyed a renaissance in the wake of New Zealand’s success with the variety. Indeed, while most Bordeaux wines are a blend of complementary grape varieties, there are now a significant number of single-varietal sauvignons on the market.

White grapes, particularly sauvignon blanc, are harvested earlier than reds, unless they are destined for sweet wines, and many are hand-picked because of the narrow width of the rows in many Bordeaux vineyards though machine harvesting is an option for some. Vineyard management, as with reds, is much improved in recent decades, with a much better understanding of vine care and canopy management leading to more reliably ripened and healthy fruit. Those that can afford to will sort the grapes at least once on arrival at the winery, partly because of the inherent problems of fungal attacks in Bordeaux.

Winemaking techniques vary, with some producers having the resources to give the juice extended skin contact and the resulting wine some time in oak, though most cannot and do not. The bad old days of excessive use of sulphur are mostly gone and white wines are greatly improved, with better fruit characters across the board and terrific freshness and balance. The best wines are world class and many provide excellent value.

Bordeaux whites have a very pale yellow colour when young which will deepen to straw yellow with age. Pessac-Léognan whites and those vinified in oak are generally richer in colour and flavour and favour more elaborate fish and white-meat dishes.
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Château Latour-Martillac

This excellent Graves estate takes its name from the medieval tower which still dominates the main courtyard of the château, a remnant of a fort built in the 12th century by the ancestors of French man of letters and political philosopher Montesquieu.

This structure was built to occupy a strategic position controlling the route between Bordeaux and Toulouse and when it was no longer needed the stones of the fort were robbed for the building of the château at the end of the 18th century.

In 1871, the estate attracted the attention of Edouard Kressmann, who had just founded his wine merchant business in Bordeaux, seduced as he was by the quality of the white wines from the remarkable gravelly hilltop here. The blend created, and which Kressmann’s company sold very successfully, was named Grave Monopole Dry. At that time the estate was known as Château Latour and in 1930 Edouard’s son Alfred, having inherited the family firm and faced with losing such a successful wine on the death of the estate's owner, set about acquiring it in the same year. Quickly he changed the name to avoid confusion with its more famous namesake in Pauillac and it became La Tour-Martillac and eventually Latour-Martillac.

It was Alfred who expanded the vineyard area from 12 hectares, mostly planted to white varieties, adding cabernet sauvignon to the merlot already planted so that the area grew to 30 hectares after the interruption of the Second World War.

In part thanks to his hard work Château...
This excellent Graves estate takes its name from the medieval tower which still dominates the main courtyard of the château, a remnant of a fort built in the 12th century by the ancestors of French man of letters and political philosopher Montesquieu.

This structure was built to occupy a strategic position controlling the route between Bordeaux and Toulouse and when it was no longer needed the stones of the fort were robbed for the building of the château at the end of the 18th century.

In 1871, the estate attracted the attention of Edouard Kressmann, who had just founded his wine merchant business in Bordeaux, seduced as he was by the quality of the white wines from the remarkable gravelly hilltop here. The blend created, and which Kressmann’s company sold very successfully, was named Grave Monopole Dry. At that time the estate was known as Château Latour and in 1930 Edouard’s son Alfred, having inherited the family firm and faced with losing such a successful wine on the death of the estate's owner, set about acquiring it in the same year. Quickly he changed the name to avoid confusion with its more famous namesake in Pauillac and it became La Tour-Martillac and eventually Latour-Martillac.

It was Alfred who expanded the vineyard area from 12 hectares, mostly planted to white varieties, adding cabernet sauvignon to the merlot already planted so that the area grew to 30 hectares after the interruption of the Second World War.

In part thanks to his hard work Château Latour-Martillac was elected to Grand Cru status in the Graves classification of 1953 and is one of only six properties in the Pessac-Léognan classified for both red and white wines.

Today six children of Alfred’s successor, Jean Kressmann, own the property with the youngest Tristan and Loïc managing affairs with the help of some of Bordeaux’s finest consultants.

The vineyard area is divided into two distinct sections. One is the patchwork of gravels that make up the so-called Martillac plateau, where the soil is poor and drainage excellent, an ideal habitat for cabernet sauvignon which is planted alongside petit verdot. The second area is closer to the Garonne River where there is more clay and limestone overlaid with gravel. Here merlot does well and the white varieties sauvignon blanc and semillon are planted.

The oldest vines at the estate date back to 1884, a small area of sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle in the south-eastern part of the estate. All of the land here is farmed with enormous respect for the environment.

All harvesting is done by hand, with successive trips through the vineyard to select only the ripest fruit. The grapes are then sorted at the cellars. The whites are gently pressed and then fermented in barrel, and the wines intended for the first wine age on their lees with regular bâtonnage for a year or so.
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2017 vintage reviews

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