Saturday, August 20, 2011


Sauternes - amazing sweet wines from French wine region. There are five villages in Graves that make this wine style - Sauternes, Barsac, Preignac, Fargues, and Bommes. Why are these sweet wines so special? Because this region is located near a river. These conditions help breed a "noble rot" also known as Botrytis cinerea, which is a kind of fungus that turned the flavor of the grapes into a rich, honey flavor, with a deep brown color. It's not easy to make a Sauternes wine - harvest workers hand-pick individual berries that have been properly infected with the fungus. This wine can age almost indefinitely. Sauternes are some of longest-lived wines, with premium examples from exceptional vintages properly kept having the potential to age well even beyond 100 years. Sauternes wines are expensive. For example a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes (1787) was sold for $100 000.

There are three main grapes used for world-famous sweet Sauternes wines:

Semillon - This grape has undetermined origin but probably it's native to France. This grape has been used in for  quality wines in France (around Bordeaux) over the centuries. This gape gives elegant dry white wines, also used for blend with Sauvignon Blanc. On the other hand, it's important because its predisposition for Botrytis cinerea (which is a noble rot giving us the best sweet wines), multiplying sugars and aromas - also used for the best sweet wines in the world - Chateau d’Yquem of Sauternes.

Sauvignon Blanc - It is one of the most used variety of grapes over the world. We can find this grape mostly in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux in France. But also it is very popular in California (over 15,000 acres), Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile. In Sauvignon aroma we can find grass, grapefruit, lime, green melon, gooseberry, passion fruit or bell pepper. It is also used for Sauternes dessert wines.

Muscadelle -  We can find this grape in Bordeaux and southwestern France, Australia and particularly in Rutherglen and Glenrowan in the state of Victoria. It has typical floral and grapey aromas and is low in acidity.

Here is the list of the best Sauternes wineries:

Château d'Yquem -
Winery is the only one listed in Premier Cru Supérieur class. It is an iconic winery famous all over the world. It's the best of the best in sweet wines. It's more than 400 years old with amazing history.

Château La Tour-Blanche (Bommes) -
Founded in 18th Century, this winery is continually investing to maintain its reputation. It's fitted out with the most modern and efficient equipment. Recently renovated and air-conditioned, this winery stocks nearly 400 Bordeaux traditional barrels. They are made from French oak (stave-wood) and are renewed every vintage...

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey (Bommes) -
Located in the heart of the Sauternes region on high ground near the village of Bommes. History of this winery begins in 1618 and thru the years it developed to the world-famous winery with the best sweet wines.

Château Suduiraut (Preignac) -
Their wines are elegant, sweet and full-bodied with a remarkable life-expectancy. Color of these wines are gold with amber tints when aged. Harmony wines with full power, complexity and finesse - it is often said that a great Suduiraut is the essence of Sauternes.

Château Coutet (Barsac) -
Estate founded in 13th Century pruducing wine since 1643. 95 acres of vineyards producing the best   Sauternes from Barsac. Château Coutet benefits from an exceptional terroir. The vines' deep roots extract elements from a limestone and clay-based soil, giving the grapes freshness, richness and strength.

Château Climens (Barsac) -
Climens is a wine with a strong and heady character. Every deed and every gesture involved in their complex trade as winemakers is aimed tirelessly at attaining this objective, finding that particular grace every year that is the signature of Climens, beyond the differences in vintages, and with which so many passionate wine lovers have fallen in love.

Château Guiraud (Sauternes) -
Château Guiraud just  obtained organic farming certification. South from Bordeaux, Château Guiraud extends over 128 hectares on the left bank of the Garonne river. It is located in the village of Sauternes. Château procudes 100.000 bottles of amazing sweet wines every year.

Château Rieussec (Fargues) -
Château Rieussec is owned by Barons de Rothschild Lafite. For many generations, Château Rieussec has been a leading name in Sauternes wines. "Rieussec produces wines that are very similar to Yquem wines." -   Charles Cocks, 1868.  

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