Oenologie - Les vins de Sauternes : « L’extravagance du superbe » - Les Grappes

The wines of Sauternes : " The extravagance of the superb "

Updated on December 14, 2022

While the anti-LGV have announced an appeal to the Council of State to denounce the impact of this high speed line on the great wines of the south of Bordeaux, let's take the time to linger on the wines of Sauternes. They are reputed to be the best sweet wines in the world. This is due to an exceptional microclimate which brings a noble rot at the origin of elegant, fine and famous aromas all over the world.They are also prestigious wines, recognized on a scale that makes many winegrowers dream. Let's discover the wines of Sauternes, treasures with a golden color and sensual aromas.

Sauternes wines: a smooth freshness and an exceptional aromatic richness

The craze around of Sauternes winesis well deserved. They are incomparably elegant, have a perfect structure and magnificent power. They are sensual wines with a golden color and a complex bouquet where aromas of candied fruits, citrus acidity, honey and spices are delicately mixed. The wines of Sauternes combine a soft freshness with a beautiful smoothness and leave an exemplary persistence in mouth.

It is more than a pleasure to discover the aromatic richness of these rich, smooth and fine wines. But where do these sublime aromas come from that make the world famous Sauternes?

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Sauternes : A Bordeaux appellation of sweet white wines

Where is the Sauternes region located? South of Bordeaux, on the left bank of the Garonne, this Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) covers 2,200 hectares. It is located on both banks of the Ciron river and on the left bank of the Garonne.

The wines of Sauternes are sweet white wines the most famous of the planet.

Why are Sauternes wines famous? The Sauternes appellation produces only sweet white wines. The grapes are harvested over-ripe with a very high residual sugar content. The sugar is found in the wines where it brings specific and particular aromas. Elegant, subtle, fine, delicate, smooth and sensual: adjectives that explain the recognition of these wines.World-renowned châteaux in the Sauternes appellation, such as the famous Château d'Yquem, carry the prestige of these wines around the world.

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At the origin of Sauternes white wines: the Botrytis fungus and the noble rot

The aromas of Sauternes wines are primarily due to a fungus, Botrytis, responsible for the noble rot on the grape berries. The vegetation cover of the Landes creates a particular microclimate. In autumn, the humidity and the cold water of the river create morning fogs that give way to a bright sun and dry weather during the day. This microclimate is very favorable to the development of the Botrytis fungus and the noble rot, at the origin of the aromas of Sauternes wines.

The noble rot concentrates the sugars in the berries. Harvesting is done manually by successive selections: several passages are necessary to harvest only the berries that have reached a sufficient level of sugar. The selection of the grapes is therefore very rigorous and the fermentation is stopped while there is still sugar in the wines. These residual sugars give the wines their character and their exception.

Château d'Yquem: the most famous Sauternes wine

The wines of Sauternes, it is also the Castle of Yquem, impossible to circumvent, famous and incomparableamong all the sweet white winesin the world. It is for proof, the only first growth superior of the appellation.

The 17th century château is magnificent, surrounded by a hundred hectares of vines planted on a dome of clay topped with a thin layer of sand. The Lur-Saluces family owned it for more than 4 centuries before it was bought by the LVMH group in 1999.

If some vintages are of a rare perfection (2001, 2005 or 2009), not all vintages are represented in Château d'Yquem. The 2012 vintage of insufficient quality did not produce any Château d'Yquem and the production was sold anonymously. This selection ensures a precious wine, an enchantment in an aromatic garden of exception.

And in tasting? Magical. After 15 to 20 years of ageing, the wines of Château d'Yquem have a sublime topaz color. The nose and the mouth combine and combine perfectly the aromas of sweet spices, beeswax and toasted brioche. The whole is melted, complex, the freshness supports the mellowness, the vigor of the wines accompanies the sensation of velvet silk, the persistence is infinite. There are still so many delicate aromas in the mouth, where candied apricot, white pepper and ginger invite you to a new journey.

Food and wine pairing : Sauternes wines go perfectly with foie gras and Roquefort cheese

Like all sweet wines, Sauternes wines are generally served at temperatures around 8 to 10°C. They are very good wines for ageing which can wait between 5 and 25 years. The best of them can be enjoyed after 50 or 100 years.

Traditionally, they are much appreciated with desserts. However, their structure and their sweetness also make them very well suited toshellfishexotic cuisine, dishes with sweet spices, and vegetable dishes.

Our advice: The classic and unmissable associations with Sauternes wines arefoie grasand Roquefort cheese. For the latter, it is the gustatory association of 2 noble rottennesses which makes it a sublime agreement.

A taste of the vintages we love!

To help you, here are the 3 favorite wines of our experts. Beware, these are little nuggets!

Château Caillou, Liquoreux, 2014, Bordeaux : This Sauterne is magnificent! This wine is characterized by its great finesse of aromas, its controlled richness, its beautiful acidity characteristic of the soil of Barsac! We highly recommend it!

Domaine de Carbonnieu, Reflets, Liquoreux, 2018, Bordeaux: Alexis Charrier has concocted for us an excellent wine! You will be enchanted by the golden color of this vintage! The nose is fresh and acidulous. On the palate, the freshness is immediate and then the fruits take over with a hint of sugar.

Manon (Les Grappes)


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