Import Selection: Fondation, 1991. Barton & Guestier

The venerable French wine-shipping firm of Barton & Guesti­er (B&G) was founded by Thomas Barton in 1725, hence the proud name of this selection. Barton, of English/Irish heritage, having tak­en on a French partner, Daniel Guestier, was notably instrumental in developing the British Isles’ seemingly unquenchable thirst for Bordeaux wines. The massive market he helped establish there for these wines, over 250 years ago, is still a phenomenon today.

Not to be outdone, the Guesti­er family also made their singular contributions. During the Ameri­can Revolution, Francis Guestier’s schooner, La Grande Nancy, ran British blockades to provide fine wine and various other supplies to George Washington’s army. Just­ly enough, Barton & Guestier is the largest exporter of French wines to the United States today.

In the 1950s, a beverage alco­hol marketing giant, The Seagram Company, Ltd., purchased B&G from the heirs. Seagrams has strived to maintain the high stan­dards of excellence established by the firm’s founders. Michel Fou­chum has been director of enology for B&G since 1976. In this ca­pacity he has been responsible for purchasing wines from small growers, blending them and fin­ishing them up to the standards worthy of this respected label.

The classic white wine vine­yard in Bordeaux is a mixture of two principal varieties; Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. One will pre­dominate the other, regionally. In the sweet wine districts (like Sau­ternes or Barsac), the majority is awarded to Sémillon. In the dry white wine producing areas (like Graves or Bordeaux Blanc), grow­ers favor Sauvignon Blanc. One or two subsidiary varieties (such as Colombard or Muscadelle) are of­ten planted, as well.

The 1725 employs a blend of about 50-60% Sauvignon Blanc (for its distinct, often “grassy”, flavor, plus acidity), 30-35% Sé­millon (for its graceful texture and fruitiness) with an admixture of 10-20% Muscadelle (to contribute depth of flavor and aromatic ac­cents). It has the pale greenish-yellow color of youth with com­plex, somewhat intense aromas of citrus, apricot, fresh hay, cassis and green plum. Firm and fresh in the mouth, it is medium-bodied with some richness and an ideal balance of fruit and acidity. It fin­ishes clean, with a dry, citrusy af­tertaste.

Serve chilled with herb-roasted chicken or poached fish.

Cellaring Notes: At its best now through 1993.

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