Located south of the Bordeaux and at the southern end of the Graves, Sauternes is a vast appellation of 2002 ha of vines whose area extends over 5 distinct communes. These 5 communes each with a unique terroir are Barsac, Bommes, Fargues, Sauternes and Preignac. The prestigious wines of Sauternes stand out for the high cost of their production compared to other wines in the region. In this guide, we will review the Sauternes appellation and the best wines in this appellation.
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The wine terroirs of Sauternes
The vineyards of 2004 ha in this appellation are located 40 km southeast of Bordeaux. Sauternes covers 1559 ha, Barsac has 403 ha. The vineyard area of Bommes, meanwhile, is 380 ha, against 565 ha for Preignac. As for the surface of the smallest municipality of Sauternes, it extends over 190 ha. Sauternes is bordered by the Garonne and the Ciron. The wine terroirs of the 5 municipalities that delimit this appellation are composed of pebbles, gravel, chalk and silt. The permeability of the soils, the high humidity due to morning mists caused by the proximity of the Ciron favor the noble rot of the grapes. This climatic condition also allows the development of the botrytis fungus on ripe grapes. To produce these wines, winegrowers must harvest in several times. The harvesters sort only the best grapes at each pass. In total, the production in this appellation is 480,000 cases of wine per year.
Sémillon is the main grape variety used in this appellation, associated with Sauvignon Blanc and a small percentage of Muscadelle. Unlike the castles of Médoc, the wineries Sauternais are mostly small. These properties are classified into 11 Premiers crus, 14 Deuxième crus. The famous Château d'Yquem received the distinction of Premier Cru Supérieur.
The greatest Sauternes:
-Yquem: the 113 ha vineyard of this castle located in the Graves wine region produces wines of incredible sweetness with complex aromas, balanced acidity and a keeping capacity of up to more than 30 years. The style of this castle is simply divine. It is a full-bodied, sweet white wine with an impressive floral character. A wine that can be tasted in your youth or let it age for years. To be enjoyed with blue cheese, foie gras or fruit-based desserts. Do not hesitate to browse our collection of wines from this castle to acquire this jewel at a low price!
-Gilette: the 4.5 ha of vineyard of this castle belong to Julie Gonet-Medeville and her husband Xavier Gonet. The property has been in the hands of the family since the 18th century. They also own the Justices in Sauternes and other properties. This castle produces only great selected vintages. Classified Premier Cru in 1855, the wines of this castle have a sweet, racy character, with an incredible acidity that can be appreciated in their youth. They are distinguished by their aging in vats for 20 years and 2 to 3 years in bottle before their marketing. These wines have strong citrus notes, complex aromas and an impressive length .
-Climens: the history of this castle located south of the Barsac appellation dates back to the 16th century. Its vineyard of 30 ha produces delicious, round, opulent and rich wines that can be tasted from their exit. But these wines classified 1er cru classé can also reveal all the complexities of their flavors and nuances and the sensuality of their aromas after 4 to 5 decades.
-Suduiraut: the large vineyard of 90 ha of this castle belongs to AXA vintages. It is located near the castle of Yquem. Classified premier cru 1855, the wines of this castle are mellow, full-bodied, of great purity and with a remarkable finesse. They exude varied aromas of fruits and flowers with a persistent finish and a beautiful aging capacity. This castle prefers reasoned cultivation and low yields to guarantee the quality of the wines.
-Guiraud: Canadian Hamilton Narby acquired this castle in 1981 and transformed it into one of the best wineries in Sauternes. Located near the Ciron, the property has a beautiful location to develop the botrytis, responsible for the noble rot, which characterizes the sweet wines of Sauternes. The 100 ha of this castle produce prestigious wines known by lovers of sweet wines from Bordeaux and Sauternes. First Grand Cru Classé 1855 and pioneer in ecological viticulture, this castle produces wines expressing a rich and opulent character worthy of the great wines of Sauternes.
-Coutet: this château classified Premier Grand Cru in the 1855 classification has a vineyard of 38.5 ha. This winery belonging to the Baly family since 1977 produces one of the sweetest, most opulent and most concentrated wines in Bordeaux. Classified in the category of premier grand cru in 1855, this cuvée is produced only in small quantities.
-Rieussec: the 93 ha of this Premier Cru Classé castle of Sauternes and Barsac are located next to the Castle of Yquem and the Castle of Fargues. The wines of this estate are concentrates of flavors with thick and viscous textures. On the palate, they reveal notes of pineapple, honey, mangoes, apricot, caramel... They take on a darker, amber or coppery shade after a few years of aging.
-La Tour Blanche: classified Premier Cru in the 1855 classification, this castle is considered the best producer of Sauternes wine after the Château d'Yquem. Mr. Osiris was the owner of this estate which he bequeathed to the Ministry of Agriculture. The vineyard of this castle is spread over 40 ha. It produces fresh, rich, powerful, exotic wines that have great aging potential. These wines have an expressive bouquet of tropical fruits and citrus fruits with a touch of lush spices. Give 1 to 3 decades to the best vintages of this castle to develop complex flavors before popping the cork!
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