One Cru Classé reinvents Sauternes, with a sparkling wine and a rosé

Thursday March 04 2021 by Vitisphere

 Through the new labels, Château d'Arche is offering a “different proposition that can be enjoyed on a more regular basis”, sums up Didier Galhaud. Through the new labels, Château d'Arche is offering a “different proposition that can be enjoyed on a more regular basis”, sums up Didier Galhaud. - Photo credit : Château d'Arche

It’s not just a matter of vocation, “the strategy of a Sauternes classified estate is to produce stellar sweet wines” claims Didier Galhaud, deputy managing director of Château d'Arche. For the past year, his guiding question for the 1855 Sauternes Grand Cru Classé has been a crucial marketing issue: “Do my products meet market demand?” And although Château d'Arche’s sweet wines have taken a modern approach – with aromatic concentration and balance driven by freshness – market demand for Sauternes remains low.

So to recruit consumers, Château d'Arche is aiming to give its brand renewed visibility. Launched as a “quality sparkling wine” with a retail price tag of €12, L'Arche Perlée encapsulates Didier Galhaud's vision “of using the region's assets to diversify the range” and “introduce a novel product with a differentiated history”. A blend of 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon blanc, the estate wine was fermented and matured for three months in Sauternes barrels, before the secondary fermentation. At the disgorgement stage, the dosage was replaced by Sauternes (Château d'Arche 2015).

The same innovative approach is mirrored in Château d'Arche’s new A range of still wines. Matthieu Arroyo, the chateau’s technical director, is testing a maturing process for 10% of his rosé for four months on the lees in barrels that have been used for Sauternes. “This adds fatness and roundness, with a slight increase in sweetness (from 1 to 1.5 g/l)”, says the winemaker.

Launching its first dry white wine, the Classified Growth puts 60% of the wine in barrels, 20% new and the remainder in one-use Sauternes barrels. But its aromatic identity also stems from harvesting as soon as Botrytis emerges, signalling optimum aromatic precursors, as analysed in the laboratory. “Botrytis is not an enemy, in Sauternes we know how to manage it”, explains Arroyo.

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