About this WINE
Château Filhot is one of the largest and most picturesque properties in Sauternes. It is located just north of the village of Sauternes in the far south of the appellation. In the late 18th century Thomas Jefferson judged Filhot the finest Sauternes after d`Yquem and the property enjoyed an illustrious reputation throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1855 it was classified as a 2ème Cru Classé. It was owned by the Lur-Saluces family from 1807 through to 1935. Today Filhot is owned and run by Comte Henri de Vacuelles.
Filhot has 60 hectares of vineyards and the grapes are harvested in several tries, with the juice being fermented in temperature-controlled tanks. The wine is then aged in a combination of tanks and oak barrels. Filhot has a high percentage of Sauvignon Blanc (45%) in the blend as well as seeing comparatively little oak in the maturation process. This means that Filhot is a slightly atypical Sauternes, being fresher, fruitier and more suited to early drinking than most of its neighbours' wines.
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
Sauv.Blanc & Sémillon
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.
Neal Martin - 31/10/2014