Sauternes is a French AOC in the south of Bordeaux area, located on the left bank of the Garonne River. The Appellation extends over 2200 hectares and is known to produce the most famous dessert wine in the world.
In 1855, on the occasion of the Universal exhibition, a specific classification was made for the great wines from Sauternes (Bordeaux white Wine Official Classification of 1855°. Some of them, such as Château d’Yquem, are renowned worldwide.
The recourse to noble rot is the hallmark of Sauternes area. Legend has it that in 1847 a wine maker, the Marquess of Lur-Saluces (Le Marquis de Lur-Saluces), came back late at Yquem to supervise the harvest. What he found was an overripe grape that he decided to harvest all the same. And he was very right because he discovered the fabulous power of noble rot on the aroma of wine.
The very complex soil, is mainly composed with clay-limestone under a gravel stratum. Sauternes benefits from a general oceanic climate combined with a micro climate: the Ciron River, which flows in the Landes forest, brings a morning mist in autumn. In this way, the fresh humidity provides good conditions for Botrytis cinerea into noble rot.
Sémillion, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc are the 3 main grapes produced in Sauternes are.
Sauternes features a great concentration of classified growths such as Château D’Yquem (LVMH Group, also producingChâteau Cheval BlancandChâteau Quinault L’Enclos), Château Rieussec, Château Guiraud, Château Haut-Peyraguey, Château Suduiraut or Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey.
Since 18th century, Sauternes sweet wine producers built up an incredible reputation. Starting with a famous connoisseur, Thomas Jefferson who recommended the President George Washington to purchase 30 dozen bottles of Château d’Yquem after tasting a sample.
The gold wines (in reference to the colour of Sauternes) are a great complimentary to a lot of deserts. Foie gras and Roquefort cheese are probably the best pairings.
Sauternes are some of longest-lived wine because of strong sugar concentration: some Grands Crus have the potential to age beyond 100 years.