France: Bordeaux: Sauternes
What About the Great Sweet Wines of Sauternes?
Sauternes (and its adjoining though lesser known neighboring commune, Barsac) is well known for producing one of the worlds great sweet white wines. Located in a rather swampy, muggy flatland to the southwest of Bordeaux, Sauternes has a climate ideal for the formation of a mold, Botrytis Cinerea, that attacks the grapes and shrivels them, thereby concentrating their sugars. The resultant wines are heady and sweet. Generally a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the wines are then aged in oak barrels which impart an overlay of spice and vanilla flavors. Great Sauternes will age for decades, but can also be drunk in its youth. Though generally consumed with dessert it can also be served as an aperitif with rich appetizers such as foie gras or Roquefort. Because the regions wines have not been under the same demand as the drier wines of Bordeaux, prices in many cases are rather low, and there are many good values to be had, particularly given the time and expense of crafting such labor intensive wines. As a final note, 1997 and 1999 are two of the finest Sauternes vintages since 1990.
Best Producers Home