Château Tronquoy-Lalande Bordeaux Blanc 2017
Regular readers will know I have long-been critical of the approach to making white wine in Bordeaux. Great terroirs are, understandably I guess, reserved for the region’s red varieties. This often leaves those interested in experimenting with a white wine looking at their lesser parcels, planting on silty, sandy or loamy soils, away from the region’s great sheets of limestone, slopes of clay and deep beds of gravel. And when they eventually bite the bullet they naturally start with Sauvignon Blanc, a variety which really needs good soils to shine.
This is a gross generalisation of course, and naturally there are exceptions to the rule, producing wines which often stand head and shoulders above their peers. Choose different varieties, as Frédéric and Hélène Soual have done at Château du Retout for Le Retout Blanc, or plant your Sauvignon Blanc on prestigious limestone slopes, which was the route taken by the Guinaudeau family for their Champs Libres cuvée at Château Grand Village, and you end up with an otherworldly level of quality and interest. I can’t think of two more compelling pieces of evidence of the benefit that comes from thinking outside of the box when it comes to white Bordeaux.
Nevertheless, the march towards Bordeaux being a region of white as well as red wines continues unabated. And, while I maintain a sceptic looking for evidence rather than a convert, I have to admit some châteaux are doing really good work in this arena. I still come across many dull, muddy and lifeless Médoc whites, but a handful shine out. The 2019 Le Blanc de Château Fourcas Hosten featured on these pages was one relevant example, even if the alcohol was declared at 15%, alcohol levels a problem with white as well as red in Bordeaux’s new climate. This weekend saw another come my way, from Château Tronquoy-Lalande.
This property remains in the hands of the Bouygues brothers, who also own nearby Château Montrose, and is managed by Hervé Berland and Yves Delsol. They took the plunge in 2011, turning over 1 hectare of the gravelly vineyard to white varieties. The spot chosen is 23 metres above sea level (enough to induce vertigo for many inhabitants of the Médoc peninsula), with rich gravelly soils. They planted Semillon and Sauvignon Gris rather than Sauvignon Blanc, and they harvest the fruit in tries. The 2017 Bordeaux Blanc from Château Tronquoy-Lalande is a blend of 71% Semillon and 29% Sauvignon Gris, vinified in barrel, and aged on the lees for at least six months before bottling. It displays a polished lemon-straw hue in the glass, with good depth of colour. To my surprise the aromatic profile suggests a crystalline minerality and a sense of drive, rare findings in the whites of the Médoc, and this comes embedded in mirabelle, peach and apple fruits, but also quartzy touches. The drive suggested on the nose does indeed come through on the palate, which combines citrus and orchard fruits in a tight frame of acidity and mineral energy. it is lightly phenolic, but otherwise this is a wine which trades on more genuine elements of its structure. This is surely one of the best Médoc whites I have tasted, looking true and linear in the finish. 91/100 (10/5/21)
Read more in:
- My detailed profile of Château Tronquoy-Lalande
- My guide to St Estèphe
- My report on the Bordeaux 2017 vintage