Have you toured a winery? If so, you’ll see a lot that’s familiar in this post. Winemaking is like many other things – brain surgery, for instance – everyone does the same thing; some just do it better than others.
Château LaTour-Martillac is a small producer run by five brothers and one sister who are the founder’s grandchildren. We met the eldest, a très chic 90-year-old gentleman. He explained that unlike Borgogne (Burgandy), where wines are either Pinot Noir (red) or Chardonnay (white), Bordeaux is known for blending. At his winery, red wine is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Their White is Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
We began in the Visitor Center with a discussion about the Bordeaux region and its sub-regions. I finally understand the difference between a left-bank wine and a right-bank wine. I used to think it preposterous that anyone could tell what side of a river a wine came from, but now I know.
The Visitors Center includes a number of murals showing vineyard life during different time periods.
Left-bank wines are made from grapes that grow in poor, rocky soil. Château LaTour-Martillac is in this group. Right-bank grapes grow in clay. Different soil, different result.
Prior to tasting, we took a short tour of the wine-making operation. I learned a couple of things that surprised me. The winery rents rather than buys oak barrels. This spares them the trouble of finding buyers for the used ones. Also, they have just installed a machine that uses machine vision to cull bad grapes. This should make the process both faster and more consistent.
A happy ending for Dominique!