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2014 Ch. Baret Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Château Baret is an up-and-coming wine property in the Graves appellation owned by the Borie-Manoux negociant company. Borie-Manoux itself is one of Bordeaux’s oldest merchant houses and belongs to the Castéjà family, who are also proprietors of the celebrated Pauillac Classed Growth Ch Batailley.
The family have poured investment into the estate to upgrade the quality of bothtn he red and the white wine, but it is the white which has made more progress recently.
The vineyards are planted with 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc for the reds and 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Sémillon for the whites. The reds are aged for 12-18 months in oak barrels, 20% of which are new each vintage. The whites are barrel-fermented and spend 8 months on their lees in barrel, one fifth of which are new.
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.
In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux, based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.
Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.
The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.
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