Background to Sauternes wine
Sauternes is famous for sweet wines such as Chateaus D'Yquem, Raymond-Lafon and Rieussec. They are among the best dessert wines in the world.
Sauternes is made with noble rot (Botrytis cinerea), a fungus that covers the grape and removes the moisture as illustrated in the image below that we obtained from Ch Guiraud.
Sauternes incorporates the villages of Sauternes and Barsac. The soils are diverse and each house has its own way of making the golden wine that Sauternes is in a very personalised wine. The grapes used to make Sauternes include Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.
Sauternes are often delicious, golden, unctuous and delicate. The aromas include honey, dried pineapple and nuts. The famous roasted note comes when Sauternes is a little bit older.
Sauternes is recommended to accompany Foie Gras, Asparagus, Lobster and Trout. It is also excellent with creamy blue cheeses such as Roquefort.
Chateau Filhot park-like grounds
Chateau Filhot tasting room
Ch Filhot, 1 Pineau Est, 33210 Sauternes, Tel 05 56 76 61 09 www.filhot.com
Chateau Filhot is one of the first Chateau as you come into Sauternes from the south. We tasted the 2007 and 2008 (both €23) for a full bottle. The 07 was light with only the slightest touch of botrytis. They said that this was good as an aperitif or to accompany roast chicken or any white meat; quite so. The 2008 had more botrytis but the typical lightness and elegance of the chateau and was readier to drink now. We bought half bottles of the 2005 (€14) to lay down untill at least 2016.
Chateau D’Arche tasting room
Ch D’Arche, Tel : 05 56 76 67 67 www.chateaudarche-sauternes.com
We started by tasting their second wine, Prieure d’Arche 2005, (€8) for a half bottle. This was quite light – sweet with just a hint of botrytis. Very good value for money. We compared this to the same vintage of the Chateau D’Arche. This was full and fruity with the full impact of botrytis – a good example of the vintage and the Chateau. We then tried the 2002 to see the impact of age. This was less intense, perhaps more elegant. They said that this was the ‘roast chicken’ wine. We thought it better that that and bought a full bottle (€28) to accompany dessert at a forthcoming dinner party.
Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey
Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey cellar
Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey tasting room
Ch Clos Haut-Peyraguey 1 Haut-Peyraguey 33210 Bommes 05 56 76 61 53 www.closhautpeyraguey.com
We started with their Chateau Haut Bommes 2005 (€20) for a full bottle. This did not stand up to the other 05s that we tasted; a bit disappointing. We then tasted the Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey 2006, 07 and 08 (€22) for a half bottle. The 07 was light with little botrytis, consistent with what we had tasted elsewhere. The 08 had the full botrytis treatment. We bought the half bottle 08s.
Chateau Guiraud tasting room
Ch Guiraud, Tel 05 56 76 61 01 www.chateau-guiraud.fr
This has always been one of our favourite Chateau in the area. We tasted their Bordeaux Blanc, Le G de Chateau Guiraud, 2009 (€9) for a full bottle. This had the classic mix of Sauvignon Blanc (70%) and Semillon (30%). We thought this really good value at the price. The second wine, Le Dauphine de Chateau Guiraud, 2005 (€9) for a half bottle was very good value too. The Chateau Guiraud, 2006 (€56) for a full bottle was what we expected – great!
We bought loads of the Bordeaux Blanc and the second wine.
The 2009 Bordeaux Blanc was 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It had a great nose but we were not too keen about the taste – perhaps our palettes were shot from all the sweet wine; but this was the first tasting after a lunch of baguette, jambon, comte and strawberries overlooking the vineyards. We then tasted their Barsac 2005, 06 and 07. This is what we had really come for. Although the 05 was not on their price list, they managed to rustle up several half bottles which we bought at (€19) per half bottle for laying down for at least 5 years.
Chateau Coutet cellars
Ch Coutet, 05 56 27 15 46 www.chateaucoutet.com
One of the Chateau the ordinarily require a reservation but we were lucky that they were able to give us a tasting. And to top it all we tasted a barrel sample of 2010. It was, of course, superb. We bought full bottles (€49) of the 05 for laying down for at least a further 10 years.