2014 Sauternes – Patience is a Virtue

October 21st, 2014

This is the state of tracker bunch no.1 yesterday afternoon, now fully botrytised and just awaitîng a few more sun hours to develop into ‘rôti’.

Bunch 1 20 10 14 2014 Sauternes   Patience is a Virtue

This is just about typical of the whole Sauternes vineyard, everyone having completed tiny pickings during the too-dry-for-much-botrytis September and early October. Now, after some much needed showers followed by the last 4 days of extreme sunshine and heat, the botrytis is everywhere and more plentiful picking is just resuming and is expected to continue well into the coming dry, sunny and cool period announced by the Météo.

The fermentations I have tasted so far show great purety and regularly high sugars and also very high acidities. The vintage seems to be all coming together very nicely.  Bill Blatch

2014 Sauternes – Slow Progress

October 3rd, 2014
Below are 4 pictures from my i-phone, showing two marker bunches on Sept 28th, when Steve was with me in Sauternes, and on Oct 1.
photo 1 e1412326338554 150x150 2014 Sauternes   Slow Progress
latourblanche2 150x150 2014 Sauternes   Slow Progress
photo 3 e1412326647622 150x150 2014 Sauternes   Slow Progress
photo 4 e1412326748955 150x150 2014 Sauternes   Slow Progress
There has been absolutely no botrytis progress in either. And this is just about the same story all over Sauternes. This week, the harvest troops have been out picking just two or three fully botrytised grapes per bunch during a laborious 1st “trie” – in fact a 2nd “trie” for most as they had managed to gather a few barrels worth during the “nettoyage” and dry white run-through mid-September and that tiny quantity should really be termed the 1st “trie”, mostly “passerillé” rather than fully botrytised but with beautiful freshness and often 25° potential.
There are large quantities of ripe grapes still waiting to botrytise, often with a few tell-tale first signs (blotches under the skins), and a few at “pourri plein” stage. We are entering our 6th week of interminably hot and dry weather which has allowed the Merlot harvest to finish in ideal conditions, whilst in Sauternes we could use a bit of rainfall or morning fogs to unleash things. Light showers are forecast for the weekend and then more of the same hot (26°C), dry conditions. It could be just enough to kick-start a botrytis onrush. The danger is that many grapes shrivel but many don’t think that will happen.
It reminds me exactly of the 1988 vintage, harvested in similarly dry conditions over almost 3 months in 7 or 8 “tries” and providing those beautifully focused and well-delineated wines that sparked off the Sauternes-as-apéritif boom in chic Paris bars which then internationalised into a three-year Sauternes boom in the markets. I still love to drink them today. In fact, I think I’ll be having one with my menu fixe at lunch today in Pauillac
I’ll check on our bunches again early next week.  Bill Blatch

2014 Sauternes Harvest First Impressions

September 30th, 2014

After all the excitement at the end of last week (see post below) Steve and I went down to Sauternes for a couple of days to take a good look around and assess the beginning of the 2014 Sauternes harvest.

The videos below provide more details but to sum things up there has been a small first pick after a difficult and prolonged growing season. A fantastic month of September sunshine after a colder than average Summer has resulted in some very ripe grapes with high sugar levels and good acidity. Some rain now is needed to bring on the botrytis on the relatively thick skins followed by some more good weather to dry things out and provide the necessary concentration – the next two weeks are critical. The Indian Summer has also meant some great dry white wines have been produced and we plan to offer some of these as well next Spring.

Watch out for a few more videos over the next couple of weeks as the harvest gets fully underway. Enjoy! Bill Blatch

Bill Blatch – Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite

September 29th, 2014

Bill Blatch was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite last week.  In a ceremony at Chateau Haut-Bailly in Pessac-Léognan Bill was awarded his ribbons by Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces of Chateau de Fargues – the moment is captured here:

Bill and the Count web version Bill Blatch   Chevalier de lOrdre National du Mérite

Well done Bill! 

After the ceremony Bill and I headed down to Sauternes to see how the 2014 vintage is shaping up – our first thoughts will follow very soon.  Steve Webb

Early 2014 Sauternes News

August 28th, 2014

I was down in Sauternes yesterday finalising arrangements to ship the 2011s.  We’re sorry these are a little late coming over compared to the red wines but it’s often the case with Sauternes that Rieussec, Raymond Lafon and de Fargues stay a little longer in barrel than the other wines.  You then get into the Summer and we’d rather not take risks shipping in the middle of a heatwave.

While I was there I checked up on progress with the 2014 vintage. The vineyard has come through the ‘iffy’ summer remarkably well and of course the year’s main scourge of irregularly ripening grapes makes no difference to Sauternes who pick grape by grape. If it remains dry for a month, it could still be very good,making Sauternes the vintage’s winner for the second year running!

It’s obviously still early days but, as usual, we’ll keep you up to date throughout.  Bill Blatch

No 2013 Yquem En Primeur!

May 18th, 2014

Chateau d’Yquem, along with Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Chateau d’Arche and Chateau Lamothe-Guignard have decided not to offer their 2013 Sauternes wines en primeur.  Yquem’s reason is similar to the one given for not releasing the 2011 during the en primeur campaign – they feel the wine they have made deserves to be sold in a healthier economic climate.

2013yquematchateau 300x168 No 2013 Yquem En Primeur!

I have some sympathy with this view – they have just got 95-97 pts from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and have been widely acclaimed as the best wine of the vintage, red or white.  Why should they release in the midst of a disastrous En Primeur campaign caused by over-pricing among some of the red wines?

Unfortunately is does mean that we cannot offer these wines at this moment but there is always an alternative! Chateau de Fargues has taken a defiant stance on price and increased it to a level they feel more suited to a wine they feel is a classic.  I have some sympathy with this approach too and the wine is certainly top quality.

Even better value though is the offer from our old favourite, Daniel Alibrand at Domaine de l’Alliance.  If you want top class Sauternes from a top vintage at an attractive price then this has to be your wine.  There are excellent offerings out too from Barsac Second Growths Chateau Broustet and Chateau Nairac.

For all the wines available in half and full bottles visit our full 2013 Sauternes En Primeur Offer.

Enjoy! Bill Blatch

2013 Sauternes Tasting Notes From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

May 1st, 2014

Two more great value 1st Growth 2013 Sauternes – Clos Haut-Peyraguey and Chateau de Rayne-Vigneau – are now out HERE

To help you work out just how good the 2013 Sauternes are we’ve added tasting notes for all wines from Neal Martin of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Jeannie Cho Lee of Decanter Magazine, Matthew Jukes of the Daily Mail and Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Just click on any label to view the notes for that particular wine.

My notes are also available and should be read first – I taste all of the wines many more times during their evolution than anyone and know them better than most.  I still steadfastly refuse to score I’m afraid (how can you judge your family?) and wouldn’t encourage anyone to look too closely at scores at this stage as we are still a year (or two for some wines) away from bottling and all of the wines are at different stages of their evolution.  Neal Martin’s notes, however, in particular should be read in detail – he is fast developing into an excellent taster of young Sauternes.

Enjoy! Bill Blatch

2013 Rieussec and de Myrat Released En Primeur

April 25th, 2014

Prices and tasting notes for Rieussec and de Myrat are now up at the Bordeaux Gold 2013 Sauternes En Primeur Shop – just click on the link!

We’ve added some tasting notes for all the wines from Jeannie Cho Lee MW of Decanter Magazine and Matthew Jukes of the Daily Mail as well as my own comments – just click on any wine label or name when you are in the shop to see all the information.  More notes will be added next week including those of Neal Martin from the Wine Advocate, Robert Parker’s chosen reviewer of Sauternes.  Don’t forget also my 2013 Sauternes Tasting Videos – again just click on the link!

The photos below are of Serge Lagardère of Rieussec tasting the 2013 vintage and Xavier and Slanie de Pontac in the cellars at de Myrat.

2013rieussecatchateauweb 2013 Rieussec and de Myrat Released En Primeur

demyrat2013web 300x212 2013 Rieussec and de Myrat Released En Primeur

Climens, Doisy Daene, Sigalas Rabaud and More 2013 Sauternes Released En Primeur

April 16th, 2014

What a wonderful price for 2013 Château Climens – Bravo Bérénice!

Great restraint too from Denis at Doisy Daene, Laure at Sigalas Rabaud and Michel at Bastor-Lamontagne – all now for sale either by the six pack (75cl bottles), the half bottle equivalent (12 x 37.5cl half bottles) or by individual bottles or half bottles as part of a mixed case that you can put together yourselves – why not have one of each?  Just click on the link below to find all the wines now:

2013 Sauternes En Primeur

To give you an idea of just how good a price the 2013 Château Climens is here are the relative cheapest prices for the most recent good vintages from WineSearcher:

2013 Château Climens – £225 per six bottle pack – click to buy from Bordeaux Gold now
2011 Château Climens – £375
2010 Château Climens – £337
2009 Château Climens – £424.50
2007 Château Climens – £387.50
2005 Château Climens – £275
2003 Château Climens – £295
2001 Château Climens – £1,000

Have a great Easter and think of 2013 Sauternes while you are eating your chocolate egg!  Bill Blatch

First 2013 Sauternes Prices Out

April 15th, 2014

The first 2013 Sauternes prices are out HERE and its good news!

Chateau prices are generally the same as last year and lower than 2011, 1010 and 2009.  Combined with a favourable exchange rate this makes 2013 Sauternes the best value quality Sauternes vintage in recent times.  And remember, Sauternes prices have not increased since 2000 in the same way that the red wines have – they represent by far and away the best value quality wines from Bordeaux.

The only real exception so far this year is Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey which, given that it is rumoured that the new owner Silvio Denz of Lalique crystal glass fame will be providing a celebratory bottle for this vintage, can be excused a modest increase.

Amongst the wines out so far is Château de Malle, one of the real surprises and a personal recommendation, as well as one of the stars of the vintage, Château Suduiraut.  All wines are available either in handy half cases or, uniquely at Bordeaux Gold, by the individual bottle or half bottle so that you can mix and match a case to suit your taste.  Just click on the link below to find all the wines along with my tasting notes for each wine.

2013 Sauternes En Primeur Prices

You can also now view my full 2013 Sauternes vintage report by clicking HERE - Enjoy! Bill Blatch