Chateau des Tourtes, 1979. Cotes de Blaye | Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | October 1982

The wines of Cotes de Blaye are among the lesser wines of Bordeaux, France. The region is across the Gironde river from the famous areas of Medoc and some ways downstream from others like Pomerol, and St. Emilion. Its reputation has waned in the last 200 years. At one time, in the fifteenh century, the wines from this region were the most sought after and coveted of the entire Bor­deaux district. It is said that growers who had proper­ties on both sides of the river would only agree to sell their left bank wine, if the buyer agreed to buy some of the right bank wine along with it.

The wines from Cotes de Blaye and regions surrounding it are used primarily as blending wines, and usually sold with a regional designa­tion. Some growers and vint­ners still produce estate bottled wines and market them individually as their private brand for distribution under the appellation they are proud of. And every so of­ten, an interesting one comes along that shows attributes worth stopping and looking at. Usually their price will be reasonable and a real value. I found Chateau de Tourtes, 1979, white, to be one of these. The property is owned by Philippe Rague­not, near the village of St. Caprais de Blaye. (pop. under 500).Only white wine is pro­duced in this immediate area.

By law, the various ap­pellations in France dictate the different grapes that can be grown in a specific region within the appellation. They also specify the permissible blend of grapes, to allow a wine to be labeled as a specific appellation wine. In our case, wine from this region may be labeled Cotes de Blaye, if it has Sauvig­non, Semillon, Muscadelle, Merlot blanc, Folle blanche, Colombard, and Pineau de la Loire. (Not necessarily all of them, but no other grapes). This allows for an identity to be developed for the wines of a region. Because of this, a very orderly system of regional identification has developed and exists in France. Good or bad, our American vintners have taken off in all directions, and have not yet settled down to doing their best thing only!

The wine is deep golden yellow in color. It has a “French” dry white Bordeaux nose. There is something about that bouquet that develops with Sauvignon and Semillon and some age, plus the French casks! It is somewhat fragrant and fruity after the initial impression. Some complexity of age. The taste starts slightly sweet, but soon shows good acid, that appears midtaste, and turns to a dry finish. It has medium body, and shows some good sauvignon varietal character that lingers. Serve well chilled with chicken or turkey casseroles, or as a dry aperitif with hors d’oeuvres of fish or poultry.

Cellaring Notes: Ready. Drink during the next 8 months.

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