Sauternes in Bordeaux

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday it was Thursday? Seriously, Saturday and Sunday fly by. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. I spent the weekend setting up our new place.

My Ma is coming over this week, so the bf and I scrambled to find a dining room table and a bed. Not as much reading was done as I had liked, but I got in as much as I can. Obviously, no blogging was done either. I’m doing as best I can with the time challenges, so I can’t beat myself up for it, right? My goal to pass WSET 3 will happen one way or the other, even it it means taking a few days off work to get it done.

I’ve re-read Bordeaux and let me tell you, I’m so glad I did. There’s so much I didn’t absorb the first time around and I’m recalling where places are now. That’s good news.

When you think of fine wine, you think Bordeaux. Well, I do, anyways. Do you ever associate it with white wine though? They make some pretty tasty whites and in the wine world, Sauternes is very well known. Sauternes is located on the left bank of Bordeaux, in the south of Graves. 

Sauternes

Graves is #34 and Sauternes is #37 on this map. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Sauternes makes sweet white wine made mostly from Semillon grapes. Other varietals include Sauvignon Blanc and sometimes Muscadelle. The conditions in Sauternes are perfect for botrytis (grapes that have started to rot from a fungus, also known as noble rot). Passerillage (grapes are kept on the vine until they start to shrivel) is also practiced in Sauternes when conditions aren’t suitable for botrytis to happen. Both make sweet wines, regardless.

Next time you see Sauternes, you may notice that it’s not cheap, but after reading this you’ll know why.

Sauternes AC

Chateau d’Yquem is ranked at the top in Sauternes. Photo from Wikipedia Commons

Harvesting is done over several weeks as only grapes that are shriveled or infected are picked. You can correctly conclude then that this is very labour intensive and the yields aren’t high.

Expect to taste orange marmalade (that’s associated with botrytis), apricot, honey and vanilla from the best Sauternes. If you want to sample a cheaper version, the characteristics noted above aren’t as outstanding, according to the WSET 3 book.

In British Columbia, at the BC Liqour Store, a bottle of Sauternes ranges from $23.95 for a 375 ml to $788.99 for a 750 ml. The higher priced ones are rare to find here, too. The 2005 750ml Chateau d’Yquem is the one that goes for $788.99 and there are only 4 units available in one store.

At this point in my life, I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on wine. I will gladly taste it though.

Have you had a Sauternes? Are you tempted to buy a bottle (maybe a more reasonably priced one first) if you haven’t? Don’t be shy. Leave a comment!

Don't be shy. Leave a comment.

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