Château Saransot-Dupré Blanc 2021
Back this week to my irregular but seemingly appreciated exploration of the world of Bordeaux whites, some well-known, and some less so (with an emphasis on the latter, naturally). My latest Sauvignon-Semillon selection sees us returning to the Médoc, and a region which provides fans of this particular vinous niche some rich pickings. We’re back in Listrac-Médoc.
This is something of a hotspot for white Bordeaux, with historical precedence; a handful of proprietors started planting white varieties here during the 19th century, as already noted in some earlier Weekend Wine reports, including my nod towards the 2020 La Mouette from Château Lestage, and the 2020 Le Cygne from Château Fonréaud. This week’s wine comes from one of their neighbours, a property I had never visited until earlier this year, Château Saransot-Dupré.
This particular property is home to the Raymond family, who can trace their presence in the region back to the latter years of the 18th century. Originally a cooper, it was Guillaume Raymond who set the family on their current course when he bought a parcel of vines in the region. In 1875 Ovide Raymond would go on to purchase both Château Fourcas-Dupré and Château Saransot-Dupré following the passing of the owner of both, one Adolphe Dupré. Sadly this did not go well, as the sequential arrival of mildew, oidium and phylloxera forced the family to sell. The devastation of the vineyard is remembered here to this day; hanging in the hallway of Château Saransot-Dupré is an oil painting depicting a young picker, basket in hand, distraught by the leafless, mildew-stricken vines that surround her.
The two properties were sold at auction; Château Saransot-Dupré was promptly reacquired by the family, and the Raymond clan remain proprietors to this day. The incumbent is Yves Raymond, who took over the running of the estate in 1986. He was quick to replant, uprooting the Cabernet Sauvignon planted by his forebears, who were trying to emulate the great wines of the left bank, difficult in the soils of Listrac-Médoc which are dominated by limestone and clay. He favoured planting Merlot, which now accounts for close to two-thirds of the vineyard, and a large slice of what remains is Petit Verdot. The wines are a success, Yves picking up the Cru Bourgeois Cup in 2017 with his 2014 vintage, the first wine from Listrac-Médoc to win this annually awarded trophy.
But enough of all this talk of red. Yves Raymond also has a section of vineyard planted to white varieties, and unlike his neighbours the white tradition was maintained here throughout the 20th century (most other Listrac whites – and a few reds too – come from more recently re-established vineyards, the vines having previously been pulled up). The Raymond family even experimented with sparkling and sweet white wines at times. Today Yves has 2 hectares of vines, half of them old-vine Semillon dating back to the 1930s and 1940s, the remainder mostly Sauvignon Blanc, with a few rows of Muscadelle.
The fruit is pressed at reception and the juice cooled to 7ºC for it to settle, after which the fermentation takes place in a combination of oak barrels for three-quarters of the volume, and stainless steel tank for the remainder. Both portions are aged on the lees, with some bâtonnage along the way, before blending of the two components in April, and eventual bottling in June. In the glass the 2021 Château Saransot-Dupré Blanc presents a pale lemon-straw hue, which is followed by a delightfully fresh nose, with layers of melon, pear, green apple and mint. And the palate is just as fresh and as enticing as the nose suggests, with vibrant apple and mint flavours set in a polished texture, with all the zippy and pithy bitterness that you should probably expect from any Bordeaux white in the 2021 vintage. It shows a little grip and modest length filled with mouth-watering bitterness. All in all this is a fine effort for the vintage. The alcohol on the label is 13%. 92/100 (11/9/23)
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