Archive for the ‘Sauternes’ Category

2013 Sauternes L’Union des Grands Crus Tasting

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

What a wonderful week it has been for tasting 2013 Sauternes!

Many thanks to Nicholas and Eloise Heeter-Tari at Nairac, Silvio Denz and Eric Laramona at Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Pierre Lurton and all the team at Yquem, Charles Chevalier at Rieussec, Berenice Lurton at Climens, Pierre Montegut at Suduiraut, Vincent Labergére at de Rayne Vigneau, Xavier Planty at Guiraud, Laure de Lambert Compeyrot at Sigalas-Rabaud, Aline and Philippe Baly at Coutet and all the staff at La Lagune in the Medoc for organising tasting events and to all the other Sauternes growers for providing us with some wonderful samples.  As well as tasting the wines ourselves we’ve put them in front of journalists and wine merchants from all around the world and everywhere they have been tasted they have brought a smile to people’s faces.

Before I finally get down to capturing my thoughts on the wines on video here are some videos Steve took at La Lagune where the Sauternais were exhibiting their wines as part of the Union de Grands Crus tastings.  It’s a great chateau and a wonderful place to taste.  There is, however, a small touch of irony in the location as La Lagune was one of a few red chateaux that decided not to present a wine this year, presumably not least because of the effect of botrytis on their Merlot grapes – the same botrytis that has produced such wonderfully fresh Sauternes in 2013.

Its all smiles though in Sauternes – as these sample videos from happy growers show.  Enjoy!  Bill Blatch

2013 Sauternes First Impressions

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

2013 Sauternes is beginning to look very promising indeed.  Before we do a comprehensive tasting we always visit a few chateaux to get a better idea of the vintage – an impression of its character.

Below are a couple of videos selected from our first day in Sauternes on Thursday that start to tell the story.  Over the next week or so we will be posting tasting videos for all the wines, all of which we will have tasted at least three times.  Enjoy!  Bill Blatch

2009 Sauternes Tasting From Bottle – Part 1

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Welcome back to the wonderful 2009 Sauternes vintage.

I’ve just finished tasting all the major Bordeaux wines from 2009 at the legendary annual Southwold tasting – reds and dry whites as well.  The best Sauternes stole the show with only the top Pomerols and Pauillacs keeping them company.

Below is a video summary of the vintage and reports on of some unclassified and Second Growth wines – this really was a vintage in which everyone had a chance to create top quality wines and these represent fantastic value.  If you haven’t yet got any in your cellar then do take a look at our full list here – 2009 Sauternes

Enjoy! Bill Blatch

2012 Sauternes Harvest – The Tension Mounts

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The 2012 Sauternes harvest now hangs in the balance with most grapes still on the vine.  In the three videos below I first sum up the situation, then pop into Chateau Climens to confirm my thinking with Bérénice Lurton and finally revisit the same row of grapes that I filmed on the 10th October.

Today only a few estates were picking anything at all – I watched the pickers at Suduiraut, Sigalas and Doisy but I’m not sure they were picking for 1er cru.  Most have decided to wait it out until all the bunches dry out and concentrate.  Today should have been a strong picking day but the fog for once let Sauternes down by sticking around until midday (Early autumn fog is traditionally good to encourage botrytis formation, but now we are too late for that).  The afternoon was dry and sunny but not quite enough to dry things out and most estates didn’t call their pickers in.

So the penultimate window of opportunity this mid-week is passing us by and we now rely totally on the ultimate one, next week, from Sunday on, when drying northerly air-flows are due to bring freezing temperatures to Sauternes.  If we get a few drops (as forecast) between then and now, we could still be in for an ultra-late good vintage well into November; if it rains more than that, I hate to think.

Meanwhile many especially minor estates are harvesting for dry botrytis wine or semi-sweet generic Sauternes or even artificially concentrated sweet wine. the latter will go to the French supermarkets for foie gras at Christmas.  But my guess for the dry wines is that they will create a whole new style for fabulously rich botrytis-type dry wines à la Ygrec, all full and rich and smelling of Sauternes yet not sweet, and as complex as you could wish because of the botrytis.  Did you see Ch Saint Marc of Barsac get a trophy award for its dry wine at the International Wine Challenge?  I have always thought that this was the way to go for a part of each château’s production: All the fullness and complexity of Côtes de Jura without the oxydation. These dry botrytis wines are unique: all the smells and flavours of Sauternes yet totally dry.  Great with seafood, veal, cheese, anything savoury.

I will be reporting more on this moving forward, but meantime we hope for some great sweet wine harvesting next week. Fingers crossed, but it’s getting late!  Bill Blatch

Francois Hollande and Sauternes

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

The feeling in the Bordeaux wine world is fairly positive about our dear new President, hereafter termed ODNP (by the way I am not French and don’t have the right to vote so I am not responsible for any of all this, my sole civic right being to say whatever I like in the café on Sunday morning).  Here are some serious and some irreverent thoughts

Sarko was so virulently anti-alcohol that we thought he was in the Temperance Movement.  Hollande seems to be more of a cheerful old soul who probably doesn’t mind a glass of wine every now and then.

Hollande with a bottle of Sauternes 300x200 Francois Hollande and Sauternes

It certainly looks as though he likes Sauternes!! Maybe this is a return to Mitterand’s  “la gauche caviar”: if so, not all that bad for the Sauternais! 

The less positive news is that anyone with any money (which of course excludes Sauternes people) is going to have to hang on to his wallet, as ODNP increases the civil service, decreases retirement eligibility etc and then has to pay for it all by applying election promises like supertaxing salaries and company profits, all magically bolstered up by growth rather than austerity.  No wonder the papers here are full of pictures of Sarko wearing a huge grin on his face. 

The effect mid-term will of course be that extra social charges and increased worker protection, plus the already agreed VAT increase, will need to be passed on to wine prices.  But maybe that won’t come to more than a percent or two. 

It remains to be seen if and how ODNP will integrate the National Front as part of the government after next month’s parliamentary elections – this might mean alcohol limits for drivers would be abolished and the English could drive over to their favourite French restaurant in Calais and drink lots of Sauternes! 

Meanwhile ODNP has to face the music from the Germans who may well include conditions like insisting that the Sauternais plant Riesling instead of Sémillon and we all know that Riesling doesn’t go with crisps as well as good traditional Sauternes does!

So my conclusion is that ODNP is good for Sauternes on all counts, possibly… maybe?  I’m off to the café tomorrow to seek out more opinions! Bill Blatch

New Sauternes Gold Star Scoring System

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

I’ve always resisted scoring Sauternes – to me it feels a bit like judging one’s family.  Steve has convinced me, however, that some form of judgement would make your life a lot easier and I completely understand that it can be difficult to make sense of some of my ramblings on Sauternes!

So – we’ve invented a new system for scoring Sauternes which gets over some of the problems associated with the traditional 100 or 20 point systems.  In the Gold Star System wines are scored out of 10g2 New Sauternes Gold Star Scoring System for Year, Wine and Value giving a maximum of 30g3 New Sauternes Gold Star Scoring System.

Our aim is for the system to explain a wine more clearly to readers and also to give guidance to producers on how to improve their overall offer.  In short we hope the system is a constructive contribution.  For a fuller explanation of the system click here – Gold Star Scoring System

We will be trialling the system for the 2011 vintage – do let us know what you think.  Don’t forget to read the notes too though!  Bill Blatch

2011 Sauternes First Growths

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

2011 Sauternes is without doubt a big success.  And at the head of this we have some sensational First Growth wines.

For my thoughts on Coutet, Clos Haut-Peyraguey, de Fargues, Guiraud, Lafaurie-Peyraguey and Rabaud Promis click on the first video below.  After that click on the second video for comments on Raymond Lafon, de Rayne Vigneau, Rieussec, Sigalas Rabaud, Suduiraut and La Tour Blanche.  There is at least one sensational wine in each video!  Enjoy!  Bill Blatch


2011 Yquem Tasting

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Great wines bring a smile to my face and I think that’s what is going on here!  Pierre Lurton, Sandrine Garbay, Francis Mayeur and everyone at Yquem can be very proud of their efforts in 2011 – a great team.  Do take a look at this video for an excellent summary of the weather and how it affected the grapes and, ultimately, the wine.  A memorable tasting to lighten up the new tasting room at Yquem.  Enjoy!  Bill Blatch

Three Centuries of Sauternes Tasting

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

It is a never ending source of wonder to me how magnificent old Sauternes can be.  Unlike old red Bordeaux where, except at the very top level, drinking windows are rarely more than a few decades, most fine Sauternes has the potential to last for centuries.

To prove the point The White Club are holding an enthralling tasting in Switzerland next month which should appeal to lovers of old Sauternes.  The staggering list is as follows:

Chateau d’Yquem – 1894, 1904, 1921, 1928, 1929, 1937, 1967, 1975, 1976 and 2001

Chateau Climens – 1937 and 1990                     Chateau Suduiraut – 1929 and 1959

Chateau Caillou ‘Creme de Tete’ – 1909      Chateau de Rayne Vigneau – 1904

Chateau Raymond Lafon – 1917                       Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey – 1921

Chateau Rieussec – 1945                                        Chateau de Fargues – 1947

Unfortunately I can’t be there as Steve and I will be tasting the new 2011 vintage which will undoubtedly one day be as famous as some of these incredible wines.  You can go though!  The only possible stumbling block is the price but given that some of these wines cost over £5,000 per bottle and that a 2 star Michelin restaurant dinner as well as some First Growth red Bordeaux are included it is not unreasonable.  Personally I think the taste of excellent old Sauternes like this is priceless!

For more details contact the organisers at concierge@league-people.com and mention Bordeaux Gold for a good table!  If you do go let us know how it went.  Bill Blatch


				

Sauternes and Burts Chips!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Have you ever had Yquem with crisps?  It’s fantastic – better than with any sweet dessert for my palate!  Take a look at the video below where we try eight differently styled Sauternes from the 2008 vintage with eight different flavours of Burts Chips, hand made in Devon.

One of the very best uses of Sauternes is as an aperitif served with just about any hors d’oeuvre you can imagine as illustrated by the different flavoured crisps here.  Alternatively you can settle down in front of the television to watch a good movie or the game armed only with a bottle of Sauternes and a bag of Burts Chips!

In our January Sale there are some great value 2008 wines including the Suduiraut that went so well with the spicier crisps:

2008 Carmes de Rieussec - 2008 Doisy Daene - 2008 Rieussec - 2008 Suduiraut

Maybe we’ve started another new trend?  I hope so!  Bill Blatch

PS For more about Burts Chips they have a great web site here – Burts Chips


2010 Sauternes update and the effect of oak on Sauternes