Château d’Arche, Sauternes Grand Cru Classé launches new style dry white Bordeaux using pioneering study into botrytis aromas

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, A – Château d’Arche 2020, based on a pioneering study it has undertaken into the aromatic precursors from botrytis.

Working closely with the ISVV Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, the technical team at Château d’Arche, represented by its technical director, oenologist and former INRAE engineer, Matthieu Arroyo, is the first in Sauternes to conduct research of this nature in which the diversity and quantity of aromas before the first visible signs of botrytis are measured. This is particularly challenging due to the chemical complexity of the aromas and their precursors present in the grape. 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.  Then 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 says, ‘It’s our savoir-faire for making Sauternes combined with this innovative technique that we have developed to manage the botrytis 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 see this latest advance as evidence that Sauternes is evolving to meet the tastes of today’s wine drinkers and that Château d’Arche is at the forefront of that change. ‘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.”

A – Château d’Arche, Bordeaux 2020 (12.7% abv) is NEW at The Wine Society ( £13.95/bottle or £83.50/case of 6.

The wine is made from a blend of 85% Semillon and 15% Sauvignon grapes grown on vines averaging 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 6 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.

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 Sémillon, 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. It is an elegant, sophisticated and original wine that will continue to develop and evolve with age.