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2003 La Tour Blanche

2003 La Tour Blanche

97 WS

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Featured Review
Dark gold in color already, with intense aromas of dried apricots, citrus, honey and maple syrup with lots of spice. Full-bodied, with lovely sweetness and a long, creamy peach tart, tobacco, honey aftertaste. This is pure botrytis. Best ever from here. Has an incredible finish. Best after 2010. 2,915 cases made. Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator | 97 WS

Critic Reviews

Dark gold in color already, with intense aromas of dried apricots, citrus, honey and maple syrup with lots of spice. Full-bodied, with lovely sweetness and a long, creamy peach tart, tobacco, honey aftertaste. This is pure botrytis. Best ever from here. Has an incredible finish. Best after 2010. 2,915 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 97 WS
Enticing bright yellow-gold color. Subdued but very pure aromas of orange peel, apricot, honey and spices. Supersweet, fat and spicy; wonderfully round, chewy and unctuous. As thick and '03-like as this is, it remains fresh and lively. Not the last word in complexity but this fine-grained wine is delicious already, and finishes with superb, palate-staining persistence.

Vinous Media | 93 VM
Ex-chateau bottle tasted blind in Sauternes. The La Tour Blanche ‘03 offers yellow flowers, melted candle wax and honey on the nose with Muscat-like aromas developing in the glass. The palate is well-balanced on the entry with lemon curd and honey notes, though it needs just a little more acidity to give it tension and freshness. The finish is quite linear, springs no surprises, and just drifts a little when you seek more tautness and race. Still, this is a pleasurable, if not profound La Tour Blanche. Drink now-2020+ Tasted April 2013.

Robert Parker Neal Martin | 92 RP-NM

Wine Details for 2003 La Tour Blanche

Type of Wine Dessert White : In the minds of many wine lovers, no food pairing matches the appeal of a dessert and an appropriate dessert wine. For those of us with a pronounced sweet tooth, dessert whites come in many shapes, sizes, and, most importantly, varietals. Whether you're dealing with an Austrian Pinot Blanc or a sweet German Riesling, it's hard to resist for long.
Varietal Sauternes Blend : Twenty-five miles southeast of the city of Bordeaux, in the southern end of the Graves winegrowing district, a magical event takes place – harvest season in Sauternes. Each year, beginning in September, the white grape varietals Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle become the star performers in an otherworldly transformation that takes winemaking to a completely magnificent level. Of course, this event could not take place would it not be for nature to play its part.

A unique set of climatic and geological conditions combine to form a rare equilibrium. A ghostly fog descends upon the region each morning, created by the differing water temperatures of the cool Ciron tributary as it flows into the warm Garonne River near Barsac and Preignac. The humid mornings give way to warm afternoon sun, encouraging the proliferation of Botrytis Cinerea.

Approximately 2,000 hectares of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle apron the region’s vineyards of Sauternes. Semillon is the most widely planted, with roughly 75% of the distribution in the vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc is planted to a little less than 25%, while Muscadelle inhabits the remaining hectares (Muscadelle is able to contract Botrytis Cinerea but not to the same effect, thus being used in miniscule amounts). The three allowable grapes (by AOC law) thrive in a terroir of varying degrees of chalk, limestone, sand, clay and gravel which rest over an alluvial bed. The soil in Sauternes is warm and dry, accumulating heat due to the smooth flat pebbles and course gravel which collect the suns warmth.

The Sauternes’ plateau reaches elevations of 3 to 80 meters, awarding the location with a unique set of micro-climates and allowing winds from the east to move through the vineyards helping to remove unwanted moisture. This is especially crucial later in the growing season, as the noble rot sets in.

Noble rot, otherwise known as Botrytis Cinerea, is a fungus that attacks the grapes. The very unique and specific climate of this region allows for this magical process to occur. The grapes become shriveled, dehydrated and concentrated with extraordinary characteristics. The byproduct is a honey filled, tropical, roasted nut and exotic elixir that is otherworldly. Pineapple, peaches, flowers, orange, vanilla, butterscotch, coconut and honey infiltrate the nose and palate creating an experience that is euphoric. Typical Sauterne blends are golden yellow in color and turn amber when aged.

Due to the immense risks taken during the harvesting season, where the possibility of grey rot (grapes become overly saturated with moisture) could occur or the complete absence of noble rot, they are the most expensive wines in the world to produce. This viticultural hazard combined with the “gold” quality liquid commands top-dollar prices.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.



For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.



France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.



France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.



With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.


Region Sauternes : The white wines of Bordeaux are sometimes sadly looked over, as the region is primarily known for their almost absurdly powerful and delicious reds. However, if you like a refreshing, sweet treat on a late summer evening or you wish to complete your journey through Bordeaux's finest wines, you should not skip a Sauternes bottle or two. Made from a carefully balanced mixture of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grape varietals, this wine boasts an almost supernatural sweetness. This sugary nature can be attributed to the presence of noble rot that can cause the grapes to visually resemble raisins in a way.

We would completely understand if a single taste of fine Sauternes brought visible tears of joy to your eyes, as the flavor is just that magnificent. As you swirl the liquid gold in your mouth, an orchestral performance echoes on, with a grounding double bass of honey and the sharpness and acidity of a passionate violin solo. Notes of peach, apricot and nut punctuate the experience, sending you sky-high with inspiration and pure, emotional bliss. Let us open the door to a whole new world together.

Overview

Producer Chateau Mouton Rothschild : As with all legendary chateaux, Mouton Rothschild has created an impressive empire over the course of its illustrious history. Moreover, Mouton has created a special niche for itself and has been producing unique and truly artistic masterpieces since its inception. What began as an audacious acquisition involving massive restructuring, extensive replanting and the construction of a new chateau, developed into one of the most coveted, First Growth properties in Bordeaux, while producing some of the finest, most prestigious wines in the world.

The might of Mouton began in 1853 when the estate, previously known as Chateau Brane Mouton (which dates back to 1720), was purchased by Nathaniel de Rothschild. Due to neglect and ill managed vineyard maintenance, the property sold for less than it was paid for 23 years earlier. This transaction would turn out to be an incredible investment as Mouton would evolve into one of the most successful and coveted properties in Bordeaux. Following the custom of the day, Baron Nathaniel renamed the property using his name along with a portion of the original name; this was the official birth of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

By the time of Baron Nathaniel’s death, the Left Bank property had risen to global fame, had been granted Second Growth status in the Official 1855 Classification of the Medoc and was producing world-class wines. The history of Mouton and all of Bordeaux would inevitably change in 1922 when a young Philippe de Rothschild gained control of the estate. Despite the property’s rise to prominence, the young Baron insisted that the estate could produce better wine. He believed, with certainty, that Mouton was as good as any First Growth from the Medoc.

It can be argued that the modern age of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, along with the modernization of the entire Bordeaux wine region began simultaneously. Baron Philippe completely changed how Bordeaux wine was produced and sold. At the young age of 20, the Baron implemented methods and techniques that were seen as radical at the time, but are still applied by all the top producers of Bordeaux wine today. The Baron was also the first Bordeaux owner to insist on bottling all his wine at their estate, which at the time was considered an unusual idea. This savvy concept, however, would allow total control over the wine sold from Mouton.

Prior to that point, the more common practice was to sell the wine in barrel to negociants, making bottling at the property a revolutionary concept. To enhance the start of bottling at the chateau, in customer’s minds, Baron Philippe hired the Cubist artist Jean Carlu to create a special label for the 1924 Mouton label. This was a precursor to the now-famous artist-designed labels, which began in earnest in 1945. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Miro, Chagall, Braque, and Balthus, have all contributed to this tradition.

Although the estate had achieved much, ameliorated exponentially and was highly regarded, in the eyes of Baron Philippe, Mouton was always a First Growth vineyard. His sheer determination would eventually grant him the highest reward as the estate was elevated to First Growth status in 1973, becoming the only person to succeed in changing the 1855 Classification. After Mouton had officially become a “Premier Cru Classe,” the accomplishment initiated a response by the Baron, “First I am, Second I was, I Mouton do not change.” For this momentous occasion, the front label for the 1973 label boasted his now, famous saying.

When Baron Philippe de Rothschild passed away in 1988, his many accomplishments were evident in the quality and standing of the wines produced and sold on the world market. His daughter, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild succeeded her father’s reign at Mouton and immediately began implementing changes. The first of which, was the introduction of a white wine named, Aile d’Argent (meaning Silver Angel); renewing an ancestral tradition in the Medoc and causing quite a stir around the region.

Under the direction of the Baroness, Mouton underwent a multi-year, complete renovation of the winery. Construction was completed in 2013 and ready for the new vintage. A cutting edge, state of the art, gravity fed, vinification cellar was constructed along with higher quality vineyard management. One of the unique creations was the invention of windows on the large, oak, fermentation vats, which allowed the wine maker to peer into the vat from top to bottom.

Another savvy business tactic was the hiring of Philippe Dhalluin, previous director of Branaire Ducru (St. Julien) in an effort to increase the quality at the estate. Since the arrival of Philippe Dhaulluin, yields have lowered and the number of cases produced of the Grand Vin has continued to decrease. This decrease in quantity has only increased the quality of wines. The Baroness passed away at 80 years of age in 2014 and is survived by her three children. The estate remains in family hands to this day.
Chateau Mouton Rothschild spans 90 hectares of vines to the northwest of Bordeaux, on the edge of the Medoc Peninsula. The estate is situated, as its name indicates, in medio aqua, “amid the waters,” which are the waters of the Gironde estuary to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its proximity to the river helps to irrigate the soil in depth and moderate differences in temperature. The estate benefits from the mildness of the ocean climate while also being protected by the large forests bordering the property to the west. The property rests on the Plateau de Mouton (Mouton meaning hill or hillock) which rises to 27 meters above sea level, offering important, natural drainage. The peak elevations at Mouton are among the highest in all of Pauillac.

Mouton’s prime location grants the vineyards exceptional terroir, consisting of deep gravel, rocks, stones and sand over limestone soils. Beneath the topsoil, clay, marl and more limestone with sand and iron are present. This incredible concentration of gravel in the soil, which goes down 5 meters below the surface, gives Mouton its unique character, and sense of place. The wine is a true reflection of its environment.

The vineyards of Mouton are planted to 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The average age of vines is 50 years old with some vines dating back to 1890 (over 130 years old) making them some of the oldest active vines in all of Bordeaux. Today, annual production at Mouton is around 20,000 cases, which has significantly decreased from previous years, largely due to Philippe Dhaulluin’s efforts to increase the quality of the Grand Vin.

Mouton is the most flamboyant style of wine of all the First Growths, with Asian spices, opulent textures and an exotic character. It has great staying power and the ability to age and evolve for decades. The wine offers incredible depth and concentration as well as balance, length and purity, making it not only one of the finest Bordeaux wines but one of the finest in the world. The wines are usually better with 15 years of age and has a peak maturity between 18 and 60 years after the vintage.

The knowledge and skills of the men and women who make Mouton have followed each other from generation to generation, passing on ancestral know-how and skills enhanced by the advantages of cutting edge technology. The reason that the name Mouton is globally recognized and considered one of the finest wines in the world is, undoubtedly, due to the resolve of the Rothschild family and their persistent efforts at increasing quality and reputation. Chateau Mouton Rothschild wines are different from one vintage to another, but always the same…quite deserving of its motto, “I Mouton do not change.”


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