Le Retout Blanc, Two Vintages, 2014

It was mid-afternoon, during a brief window of opportunity in a busy schedule in Bordeaux, that I stopped off at Château du Retout. This château lies between Lamarque and Cussac-Fort-Médoc, in the no man’s land that stretches from Margaux in the south to St Julien to the north. It wasn’t a scheduled stop, so I was glad to see Frédéric Soual emerge from the tasting room when I pulled up outside.

Château du Retout

Frédéric Soual (pictured above) and his wife Hélène make here what is surely the most esoteric white wine in all Bordeaux, a blend of Gros Manseng, Sauvignon Gris, Savagnin and Mondeuse Blanche. Since first tasting the wine, in the 2011 vintage (there was a 2010, but volumes were in litres not hectolitres, and I haven’t tasted it), I have been entranced by the wine The story behind the wine is quite simple, yet courageous; Hélène and Frédéric were looking to replant a parcel, and realising they were working with rather unexciting clay soils they decided to spice things up a little bit by eschewing the usual Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and opting instead for the quartet of distinctive cultivars listed above. The first few vintages have been hard going; the vines struggling to get established, and the yields have therefore been very low; happily, the 2013 vintage is a little better in terms of yield, but it is not yet at the 40-50 hl/ha level Frédéric would like to see.

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