Internationally known for its sophistication and complexity, Sauternes occupies a special place in the world of sweet wines, symbolised perfectly by the prestigious Chateau d'Yquem. Along with a signature, inimitable wine style, Sauternes is also the name of a historical appellation. Located on the Left Bank of the Garonne River in the Bordeaux region of France, around thirty kilometers south of Bordeaux city, the Sauternes production area covers a total of 1,557 hectares, extending over 5 communes: Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues, Preignac and Barsac. The vineyards of Sauternes are planted in a stony soil, composed of gravel and pebbles on limestone with bits of clay.
The wines of Sauternes owe their very particular flavour to the famous "noble rot", botrytis cinerea, a fungus without which this style would simply not exist. A unique microclimate is formed in this area by the Ciron River (a small tributary of the Garonne). The morning mists of autumn brings moisture, which is deposited on the surface of the berries, allowing for the development of this noble rot. The botrytis dries out the berries by concentrating the sugars inside (221g/L, according to the specifications of the appellation) and helping the wine express its flavours fully. A kind of liquid gold, Sauternes wines are the result of a process that is long and expensive for producers, since the specifications of the appellation limit the yield per hectare to just 25hl. At the most selective estates, one vine is equivalent to a glass of wine, instead of a bottle as in the case for most wines.
The famous classification of 1855, specially created for the Universal Exhibition of Paris, designated 26 classified growths, each with its own character. Although Semillon is the flagship grape variety of the Sauternes appellation, the blend also includes Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.
The Sauternes appellation and its eponymous wine owes its fame to some prestigious properties, which include Chateau La Tour Blanche, Chateau Suduiraut, Chateau Guiraud, Chateau Climens, Chateau de Rayne Vigneau and also Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey...
Characterised by a beautiful aromatic freshness and citrus notes in their youth, Sauternes wines have a great ability to age, allowing them to fully express their complexity with a beautiful opulence on the palate, and a characteristic acidity.
Often associated with festive meals, Sauternes lends itself wonderfully to the most surprising food-wine pairings, especially with fusion cuisines and spicy dishes.