Awarded Grand Crus status in the 1855 classification, Château d’Arche is best known for its Sauternes, but now it has launched its first dry white Bordeaux, called A – Château d’Arche 2020, based on a pioneering study into Botrytis.
Working closely with the ISVV Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, the technical team at Château d’Arche, led by its technical director, Matthieu Arroyo, is the first in Sauternes to conduct research measuring the diversity and quantity of aromas present before the first visible signs of Botrytis (the fungus responsible for noble rot, which gives Sauternes its distinctive flavour). Found in the skin of the grape, the aroma precursors are the molecules that help the aromas to settle – the more there are, the more aromas can be found in the wine.
This complex analysis provides Château d’Arche’s winemaker with essential information about the quality of the grapes so that the harvest can be started at the precise moment when the Botrytis starts to develop. The timing is critical because as soon as this happens the aromas of the Sémillon and Sauvignon grapes multiply to create a dry white wine with exactly the same intensity of aromas as a Sauternes. Later, during the ageing process, 30% of the wine spends time in Sauternes casks to further enhance these distinctive aromatic characteristics in the wine.
Didier Galhaud, director of operations at Château d’Arche, said: “It’s our savoir-faire for making Sauternes combined with this innovative technique which have enabled us to make this unique new dry white Bordeaux, A – Château d’Arche. It’s the reason why the wine is so aromatic and complex and also what sets it apart from wines being made in other dry white producing regions.”
Galhaud sees this latest advance as evidence that Sauternes is evolving to meet the tastes of today’s wine drinkers. The wine is made from a blend of 85% Semillon and 15% Sauvignon grapes grown on vines which, on average, are about 40 years old in soils which are a blend of 80% gravel and 20% clay-limestone. The grapes are hand-picked on the verge of Botrytis and then matured on fine lees for six months, half in temperature-controlled vats and half in barrels, 20% of which are new and 30% in Sauternes barrels to reinforce the wine’s identity and aromatic impact.
“My aim is to make Château d’Arche a must-see property for visitors to the region that has managed to remain both relevant and accessible in the modern world of wine,” said Galhaud.
The wine is named after the estate’s founder, Étienne d’Arche, a French nobleman who settled in Bordeaux in 1611 and bought a vineyard after becoming fascinated by wine. Château d’Arche covers 70 hectares in the Sauternes appellation 40km south east of Bordeaux between the Garonne and the Landes Forest. It has a growing reputation for being a pioneering Sauternes estate not only in wine making, but also in wine tourism and sustainable development, with all its wines currently in transition to achieve the French AB certification in sustainable agriculture by 2024.
A – Château d’Arche has an intensely aromatic nose resembling the estate’s Sauternes, full of passion fruit and citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit balanced by floral hints of acacia flowers typical of Semillon, and a light toasty touch from the maturation in barrels completes the aromatic complexity. The palate reflects the aromatic freshness and layers of depth of the nose from start to a long refreshing finish surrounded by the creaminess created by maturing on the lees. This elegant and original wine will continue to develop and evolve with age. A – Château d’Arche, Bordeaux 2020 is available from The Wine Society at £13.95/bottle or £83.50/case of 6.