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    95 Tb
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History

The figures who have shaped the destiny of La Tour Blanche are inextricably linked to its history. Each, in their own way, has contributed to making the estate one of the finest in Sauternes, by taking risks, by being imaginative, by challenging conventional thinking, and by investing. These “prospectors of gold” - a description which is very fitting for Sauternes - have created their philosopher stones in the form of... golden nuggets. Foremost among these: Monsieur de Saint-Marc, Lord of La Tour Blanche.

We could go much further back in time, but the original small chartreuse that became a château starts to get slightly lost among the various notarial deeds and other archives. But we need to start somewhere, and Monsieur de Saint-Marc, Lord of La Tour Blanche – who would give the domaine its name – is a good starting point. This was back in the mid-17th century.  Saint-Marc was a clerk at the Court of the Parliament of Bordeaux.  As he had considerable financial means at his disposal, he was able to transform the vineyards and its humble dwelling into a fine looking château, even having a tower built in order to justify the name!

 

FREDERICK FOCKE, THE QUALITY CAMPAIGNER

Another figure who played an important role in building the reputation of Château La Tour Blanche, was German, Frederick Focke.  At the time, there was a sizeable German community in the region, which was also influenced by English Protestantism. Mr Focke reinvented the sweet wine of Sauternes. Here's how…

Frederick Focke had brought with him a technique known as “late harvesting” already widely practiced in his country of origin, as well as by a few famous properties such as Yquem and Suduiraut. Not content to be just a pioneer, Frederick Focke was also among the influential and innovative owners who were able to persuade their fellow Sauternes producers – even the stubbornest among them - to carry out successive selections of the grapes at harvest time, which would be the key to the success of the appellation.

The merits of this initiative were proven when, the Sauternes crus, like those of the Médoc, were classified by the Syndicat des Courtiers en Vins de Bordeaux in 1855.  At the time, the aim of this classification was to identify the "best" wines, those worthy of being showcased at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. Château La Tour Blanche – a Sauternes Premier Grand Cru – was, of course, one of the first selected. This was a true consecration for Frederick Focke... who sadly died that same year.

 

In 1855, during the Second Empire, the growths («Crus») from Sauternes, along with those from Medoc, were asked to put forward their products for a classification organized by The Wine Brokers’ Union of Bordeaux under the supervision of the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce.  

This request emanated from the Imperial Government who wanted to submit the most deserving wines of the Gironde to The Universal Exhibition in Paris. 

Château La Tour Blanche was placed top of the Sauternes white wine first growths («Premiers Crus») just behind Château d’Yquem, the unique «Premier Grand Cru Supérieur» of the Appellation.

 

OSIRIS, THE WINE LOVER

After the death of the talented Frederick Focke, the family - wife, nephews and investors - presided over the destiny of the domaine recognized as being one of the most typical of the appellation. Then along came Osiris! Behind this pseudonym, which sounds like the name of some ancient Egyptian god, was a man named Daniel Iffla, a wine aesthete with an unconditional love of elegance and quality. 

Château La Tour Blanche seems to have been just waiting for this new owner to come along to reveal its final, flattering touch of excellence. Osiris was a powerful financier with limitless financial resources. Although he usually resided in one of his villas in Arcachon, he could always be found at La Tour Blanche at harvest time. 
Daniel Iffla was not only a lover of prestigious wines, he was also a philanthropist in numerous fields including building restoration, providing assistance to those in need, and research with Louis Pasteur.

This incredible man, who died heirless in 1907, bequeathed the property to the French State under the condition that a wine school be established on the site.  His wishes were respected in 1911.

 

HE WILL TO PASS ON

Since 2010, the estate has belonged to the Region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The state agricultural school offers several courses with levels ranking from a tenth grade («troisième») vocational course («Découverte des metiers du vivant») and Secondary School Graduation Diploma (Baccalaureat Professionel) through to a 2-Year Degree Course by Apprenticeship (B.T.S.A).


Since 2010, the School of Viticulture and Oenology and the Chateau La Tour Blanche have integrated the EPLEFPA Bordeaux-Gironde (Local Public Institution of agricultural Education and Vocational Training ), first institution of agricultural and viticultural studies at the national level , which combines two other schools and their châteaux: Blanquefort school and Château Dillon (Haut-Médoc AOC, Cru Bourgeois), as well as Libourne-Montagne school and Château Grand Baril (Montagne Saint-Emilion AOC) and Réal Caillou (Lalande de Pomerol AOC).

A PEDAGOGICAL FIRST GREAT GROWTHIt is important to highlight that even if Chateau La Tour Blanche represents an essential pedagogical support for the students, the estate is entirely managed independently from the school by professionals in the Wine and Vine-growing sector in order that the expected level of quality for a Grand Cru of Bordeaux is respected.

 

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Vineyards

The Sauternes Appellation covers near to 2,000 hectares on the five villages of 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 situated on a fine hilltop position, 60m above sea level.
This advantageous position facilitates the best possible exposure to the sun, optimal drainage of the land and specific soils. All of those give wines 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.

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Winemaking

The grapes which arrive in the winery are perfectly botrytised, saturated with sugar and candied («confits») to perfection. Now, the almost magical act of transforming the grapes into wine begins.

Once selected on the sorting table and pressed, the must obtained from the grapes undergoes a simultaneous reaction provoked by the Noble Rot: the acidity level diminishes and the sugar concentration level increases. The annual yield doesn’t go over 10 to 15 hl/ha due to a rigorous selection.

Thus, only musts with an average potential of 20 to 22 degrees in alcohol are selected for the First Great Growth («1er Cru Classé»). The slightly less concentrated juices will be used for the production of the second or third wines. After a night of decantation, the alcoholic fermentation begins.

After two to three weeks the desired balance between the sugar and the alcohol level is obtained and the fermentation process is stopped. This is the non-fermented residual sugar which makes the wine so rich, sweet and tasty.

CARE AND AGEING

To allow the wine to slowly mature during this preservation period, Chateau La Tour Blanche attentively follows its evolution.

Like all wines, the barrels will be regularly topped up. In order to eliminate the lees the wine is racked every three months.

On average, the ageing lasts from 16 to 18 months. It is only after this process that the blending begins – an art determined by strict taste assessments of the different batches. The results must equal customer required level.

The precious nectar is finally obtained. Now starts the ageing process as Sauternes wines can be laid down for a long time.

THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY AND TRADITION IN THE QUEST FOR QUALITYChateau La Tour Blanche has continually provided itself with the means to keep its reputation. It is fitted out with the most modern and efficient equipments but it has also known how to maintain the more traditional aspects of wine-making.
The recently renovated winery, which has also been modernised and air-conditioned, stocks the traditional 225-litres Bordeaux traditional barrels. At Chateau La Tour Blanche, all the barrels are renewed every vintage and are made from French oak grown in Nievre, Allier and Vosges.
The vatroom comprises thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks of varying capacities, enabling a very precise selection of the wines, including small volumes.

Man’s craftsmanship and experience in the world of wine is still omnipresent at La Tour Blanche. However, it is also through constant experimentations and significant technological investments made over the years that contribute in achieving the Chateau’s main objective: Quality.

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Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  50 wines 

BORDEAUX 2019 / Ch. Margaux 2019 - only 37% of the whole production into Grand Vin. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon + 7% Merlot + 2% Cabernet Franc + 1% Petit Verdot, 14.9% alcohol. Ch. Margaux' technical director, Philippe Bascaules, told me, that Merlot needed to be vinified gently due to its voluptuousness and high alcohol. He made a comparison between 2018 and 2019 Grand Vin - "when I taste 2018 Ch. Margaux, I taste 2018 vintage first, then Ch. Margaux. When I taste 2019 Ch. Margaux, it's Ch.  Margaux first, then 2019 vintage!"
It's a showcase of Cabernet Sauvignon with wonderful aromas of cigar box and tobacco leaves. Extremely elegant and multi-faceted, sophisticated and very stylish for the property. Exceptional complexity and purity. Liquid silk. True perfection here! 99-100p. 

4m 16d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  25 wines 

Drinking History-tasting with wines from vintages 1878 to 1978.

1y 11m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  88 wines 

2017 is a vintage bringing back Bordeaux to its roots, offering a very classic wine style with lower alcohol levels than in the previous years but with often excellent aromatic expression. 2015 and 2016 have surely been better vintages than last year, but based on a first impression 2017 seems to be better than 2014. The evolution will show, that 2017 is far from becoming a "forgotten vintage". Some nice surprises will be waiting for us.

2y 7m ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  126 wines 

Every now and again one stumbles across a paradox that confounds the accepted natural order of things. The 2016 Bordeaux vintage was born out of a growing season that was near-catastrophe and near-perfection. After the Hesperian Dragon’s relentless torment, the Titan God Atlas had seemingly kept the sky aloft with the help of a Phoenix. Following five months of diabolical weather patterns, a warm to hot dry summer arrived in the nick of time, not only saving a vintage, but creating one of the most spectacular vintages in a lifetime.


 The sense of relief in Bordeaux must have been as thrilling as avoiding the bullet of Russian Roulette, or the adrenalin of surviving a base-jump. The razor’s edge has never been so exquisitely fine. While the end result is not always perfect, with the odd abrasions here and there, the overall quality of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage is remarkably consistent with many Chateaux making some of their best wines in 50 years. Typically, the wines have deep colours, pure fruit aromatics, generous saturated flavours, dense rich tannin structures and bell clear acidities. Precision, freshness, elegance, smoothness and “delicate opulence” are words that are being used by various Chateaux to describe their wines.


 The Bordelais are, of course, the world’s greatest spin doctors. They leave snake charmers for dead when it comes to the art of mesmerising. The newly opened and impressive Cité du Vin, which sits on the banks of the Garonne River in Bordeaux, sparkles like a polished turd; a monument to the exaggerations and optimism of this particular type of fine wine game. Momentum is achieved through belief. There is no room for wavering or self-doubt.

3y 7m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  272 wines 

BORDEAUX VINTAGE 2016 / Tasting "en primeur" is a challenge every year. The wines tasted are showing a tendency only and it is still the beginning of a longer process of evolution and maturation in the barrels. There might be some changes during the next year and a half until the wines will be bottled, but already today the tendency is quite clear. For most of the red wines it will be an outstanding vintage, a vintage for Cabernet, old vines, limestone and clay soil. It was a challenging year for the vintners. An incredibly wet spring was worrying the winegrowers and at the beginning of June, the spirits were down. However warm and dry weather between June 3 and June 11 creating an close to ideal situation for the flowering and good weather conditions starting in mid June changed the nature of the vintage. The fine weather continued into July and August. The month of August was featuring hot weather and a remarkable amount of sunshine but the absence of rain let to water stress. Heavy rain in mid September set an end to water stress and when the sun returned on September 20 the vintage was saved as there was excellent weather till to the end of the harvest. The effects were various. the white wines are on a good quality level and display fruit and flavour but the acidity is lower than in previous vintages and the white wines show an opulent and rather soft style. The noble sweet wines are extremely pure and are more on the rich and powerful side than on the freshness. For the red wines originating from the right terroirs and old vines, the vintage an be called outstanding. Water stress was managed well on limestone and clay terroirs, Cabernet varieties did extremely well and old vines found water even during the stressful dry periods of summer. In some few red wines the tannins are slightly harsh, almost bitter, a result of water stress and/or intense extraction. In general the red wines are on an excellent level with an advantage for the left bank, mainly the Médoc area, and the classic great terroirs of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. 

3y 7m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  32 wines 

Château Margaux Pavillon 2013 / Bright yellow colour with green hue. Very elegant and persistant nose, mint, buxus, ripe peaches, fresh grapefruit, guava, hints of passion fruit and pineapple. Hints of toasted brioche and vanilla in the backgroune. On the palate well balanced with a lot of freshness and hints of salty minerality, elegant lemon peel character in the background. Great length "tout en finesse"

3y 10m ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  41 wines 

“Bordeaux 2015 Vintage TOP 40 / The wines on this list is chosen for their believed future score and and thereafter in the order that I would like to buy them to have them in my collection (if I had money dripping from my finger tips) but there are, luckily, some wines on this list that are not overly expensive. After five hundred and fifty plus wines tasted of the 2015 vintage more or less everything there is to taste of names have been tasted, some, when in doubt about the sample has been tried again if possible. The wines are very good if maybe not at the level som have suggested. It does not rival 2010, not 2005 either. 2000, 2001 and 2014 in parts seems to be somewhere to put it, and 1985 has come to mind several times over with the pure fresh elegance and charm.

The wines are far more precise and concentrated than 1985 ever was, but the style seems similar. These are wine that will be very easy to enjoy with high quality and on a whole, the best vintage since 2010, especially on the Right Bank. Some excellent and superb wines in Pomerol, and a more fine grained and fine tuned and fresher, more brilliant style of Saint-Emilion. Left bank is more varied, Margaux and Saint-Julien the most homogenous. There are many great wines just off this list, these are the ones I expect to land at 95 score or higher. None at one hundred this time around. The wine are fragrant, red fruity, many has used everything they had of Cabernet Franc, so a violets note is quite typical, especially on the Right Bank.

4y 7m ago

 Jules Chauvet / Wine Importer, Wine Importer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  19 wines 

“One of the stars of the vintage for Sauternes, the 1996 Guiraud offers a sumptuous nose of tangerine fruit intermixed with caramel and buttered corn. The wine displays a deep golden color, and striking flavors of Chinese black tea, marmalade, honey, and citrus. The powerful yet elegant flavors remain in the mouth for a significant period of time. While this wine is traditionally a blend of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon, Xavier Plantey, the estate's manager, told us that there is nearly 45% Sauvignon Blanc in the final blend of the 1996.
93 points”

4y 8m ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  21 wines 

“Fine and Rare tasting : Six times full 100 points!!”

4y 9m ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Tour Blance . In a tasting of  11 wines 

“Yquem 2005 98 points - Medium deep colour. Remarkably extravagant wine with intense perfumed dried apricot/ nectarine/ lemon curd/ honey/ garrigue aromas and some savoury oak notes. Powerfully concentrated supple palate with incredibly deep set apricot/lemon curd/honey/ orange peel flavours balanced by savoury/bisquity oak and piercing acidity. A very rich profoundly exuberant wine compressed with fruit and energy. Will develop and last decades.”

5y 8m ago

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