Friday, 20 May 2016

Chateau Latour-Martillac

What a fabulous start of lunch by sipping Chateau Latour-Martillac Blanc 2001 from Pessac-Léognan. This 15 year old wine was elegant, fresh with great refinement - a reminder of how a great Bordeaux white wine can develop.

The lunch was hosted by the Chateau’s brand ambassador Edouard Kressmann, a winemaker by training and the fourth generation of the family-owned estate. Originated from Poland, the great great grandfather Edouard moved to Bordeaux in 1858, built a successful negociant business and eventually advised Chateau La-Tour in Martillac to plant white grape varieties. The property was subsequently bought by Alfred, the son of Edouard, who changed the name to Latour-Martillac. The terroir of the estate proofed to be exceptional for both red and white wines. When the Graves wines were classified in 1953 and again in 1959, only six estates had both their reds and whites selected for the classification, and Chateau Latour-Martillac was one of them.

Edouard is proud of the label, designed by his grandfather Jean in 1934. A striking geometric design with black, gold and beige pattern, it was inspired by the Art deco movement. I have to admit that the label does stand out and is probably well-received in China, the market that Edouard is focussing. He moved to Beijing in 2011, visiting various Chinese and Asian cities to promote the brand. Although Pessac-Léognan still lags behind the Medoc in China, Edouard is pleased to see that more and more Chinese consumers are not chasing big names.

Chateau Latour-Martillac was also a pioneer and employed the first female winemaker in the Pessac-Léognan appellation back in 1991. Valérie Vialard has been with the chateau since then. Michel Roland was the winemaking consultant until 2001 and when Valérie took over, she experimented with different ageing and blending techniques. Michel aged wines in barrels according to their quality (best wine in new barrel, second best wine in first year barrel and so on) an
d only blended them later, while Valérie first blends the wine then ages them in new, first and second filled barrels in equal portion. The final wine is more integrated and elegant.

Edouard is the only member in his generation actively involved in the family’s business. Although he misses harvest and working in the winery, he plans to stay here in the east for a while to understand the customers. His stint in China would certainly prepare him to continue the legacy of Chateau Latour-Martillac.

Chateau Latour-Martillac is available from Summergate.

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