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2005 Ch. Raymond Lafon, Sauternes
Chateau Raymond Lafon is located in Sauternes, Bordeaux, next to the vineyards of Chateau d’Yquem and very close to Chateau Suduiraut. It was founded in 1850 by Raymond Lafon, and was inherited by Louis Pontallier, a nephew of Lafon’s, whose grandson, Paul Pontallier, is the director of Chateau Margaux.
Pontallier sold the chateau in 1952 to the Bourdier family, from which the current owners, the Meslier Family, (Pierre Meslier was the then managing director of Chateau d’Yquem) acquired it in 1972. The association and the proximity to Chateau d’Yquem explains why Raymond Lafon is produced in the exact fashion with the great sweet wine of Bordeaux.
The tiny 18 hectare vinayard is planted to 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc with vines that average 40 years of age. The wine spends 3 years in 100% new French oak barrels.
The blend used for White Graves and Sauternes and rarely encountered outside France. In the great dry whites of Graves, Sauvignon Blanc tends to predominate in the blend, although properties such as Smith Haut Lafite use 100% Sauvignon Blanc while others such as Laville Haut Brion have as much as 60% Sémillon in their final blends. Sauvignon Blanc wines can lose their freshness and fruit after a couple of years in bottle - if blended with Sémillon, then the latter bolsters the wine when the initial fruit from the Sauvignon fades. Ultimately Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine its aroma and raciness while Sémillon gives it backbone and longevity.
In Sauternes, Sémillon is dominant, with Sauvignon Blanc playing a supporting role - it is generally harvested about 10 days before Sémillon and the botrytis concentrates its sweetness and dampens Sauvignon Blanc`s naturally pungent aroma. It contributes acidity, zip and freshness to Sauternes and is an important component of the blend.
Sauternes is where arguably the world's finest sweet white wines are produced. The Sauternes appellation actually consists of five communes: Barsac, Preignac, Bommes, Fargues and Sauternes itself. Barsac is also an appellation in its own right.
Sauternes literally has an atmosphere different from any of the other major communes. At the southern tip of the Graves,close to the Garonne, not only is the land hillier and decidedly more bucolic but it also enjoys a specific mesoclimate of evening autumn mists which linger until well into the following day, unless burnt off by warm sunshine.The mists are caused by the cool, spring-fed waters of the Ciron River meeting the warmer tidal Garonne, and the result is an ideal environment for the growth of the mould botrytis cinerea. When its arrival is felicitous, it feeds on the water in the ripe grapes, dehydrating them and leaving sweet, shriveled fruit.
Recommended Châteaux : Ch. D'Yquem, Ch. Climens (Barsac), Ch. Suduiraut, Ch. Rieussec, Sigalas- Rabaud, Ch. Coutet (Barsac), Ch. de Fargues, Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Ch. Doisy-Védrines (Barsac), Chateau Partarrieu, La Tour Blanche
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