Archive for the ‘Sauternes’ Category

Frost Slams Sauternes

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Every Sauternes grower dreads a late frost and last night the wind dropped at midnight and temperatures fell to -2 to -3 degrees by morning.

It is too early to assess the damage to the final crop properly but the ODG is reporting that some lower lying vineyards in Preignac and Bommes are 100% affected, Fargues around 70% affected and the upper slopes of Sauternes and Bommes less affected at 20-30%. Barsac seem less worried but the ODG is estimating the total damage to Sauternes-Barsac at 50%.

We will report on how some vineyards have been affected as soon as we know more.

Sad news!

2016 Sauternes Snapshot Videos

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

The 2016 Sauternes vintage is the third in a trio of excellent vintages. Please take time to watch the short videos below that explain why 2016 Sauternes are so fine and pure and to learn how your favourite chateau performed, with great audio that you can hear if you get good speakers, and you can get the best one from this z623 review.

Vintage summary and unclassified Sauternes: Please excuse the noise of our lakeside waterfall in the background – just turn the volume up and use it as a relaxation video at the same time!

Second Growths: From Filhot in Sauternes in the South to Broustet in Barsac in the North the Second Growths produced excellent wines across the length and breadth of the region – Bravo!

First Growths: 2016 Sauternes are fresh in style but also have great concentration – the First Growths are varied in style but all are showing signs of greatness.

Enjoy!  Bill Blatch

2016 Sauternes Trois Fois

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Not content with tasting the the 2016 Sauternes on Friday we tasted them again on Saturday at our luxurious lakeside lodge. We were joined by journalists and wine buyers from around the world – thanks to Chip Delsener for the photo below, Steve’s father Derek for some superb Bar-B-Q sausages, Nico McGough for bringing some excellent blood sausages to add to the selection and to the Sauternais for providing some excellent older wines to drink with them. If you haven’t tried Sauternes with sausages then you haven’t lived!

And we tasted again all day Sunday with more journalists and wine buyers from around the world at the Vintex tasting at Le Lac de Bordeaux  – thank you Philippe and the Vintex team.

As a result we now have a good idea of what the vintage is like and it is goods news at all levels and for all pockets. We will shoot some vintage summary videos covering all the wines and put them up here as soon as we can. Don’t miss them! Bill Blatch

A New Sauternes Cocktail Arrives

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Florence Cathiard who, along with her husband Daniel, is the new owner of Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne has joined forces with Perrier to create a new Sauternes based cocktail – ‘Le SO PERRIER’.

Building on Michel Garat’s creation of a lighter Sauternes style for a younger audience (which he branded ‘SO Sauternes’) Florence has gone a stage further and launched the new cocktail in partnership with Ricard, distributors of the Perrier brand in Paris this week.

For the full brochure (in French) click on this link – Dossier de Presse SO

Steve and I will no doubt be trying this out as we taste our way through the 2014 vintage!  More news on the vintage and all the wines will be uploaded over the next couple of weeks.

Enjoy!  Bill Blatch


Bill Blatch – Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite

Monday, 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

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

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.

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

2009 En Primeur prices - Sauternes looking good value