I proclaim a bottle of dessert wine should be available to open at all times. This coincides with world Sauternes day today, May 1st, a great excuse to partake and look back on our adventures in Sauternes. Will you join me?!?
We don’t drink Sauternes daily but love the stuff.
It entered my life while living in Chicago. Those early days I read Wine Spectator cover to cover and spent weekends at Sam’s Wines and Liquors walking the isles, reading them like magazine pages. My eyes lit up one Saturday when half bottles of Château d’Yquem landed in front of me. Imagine that and within my dollar reach! I bought two 375 ml bottles- a vintage 1990 and 1991. I immediately understood the hype behind this style of wine after drinking the ’90. It was one of the most unbelievable liquids to caress my taste buds. I drank the bottle myself.
After that, I decided to lay the ’91 down knowing the wine could age. If I’d known more back then I’d have flip-flopped because it’s rated in the top-tier of vintages. Oh well!
Now days living in Bordeaux, Sauternes and other wines with residual sugar are easily available.
To take advantage of this we’ve gone to Sauternes Portes-Ouvertes (open doors) twice.
Portes-Ouvertes happens in all Bordeaux appellations, it’s a great way to taste wines from many wineries without an appointment. Insider tip- when visiting Bordeaux, schedule your trip over a Portes-Ouvertes weekend when many wineries are open for free tasting to the public.
And now, please let Mark and I indulge you in Sauternes!
While the region has lost footing in recent years, several château made and are making changes to lure customers and increase wine tourism. Two such wineries are Château Giraud and Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey who both opened restaurants.
Silvio Denz owns Lafaurie-Peyraguey and also Lalique, maker of stunning glass art, among other businesses and wineries around the world. The winery luxury hotel and restaurant are stunning with Lalique glass everywhere.
The second growth Château Filhot introduced a less sweet, fresh tasting Sauternes that includes a new wave label (below left). Delightful as a before dinner sipper or with Bibimbop, curries and more. The 2015 grand vin is a great growth, complex and classic wine.
Château La Tour Blanche houses a viticultural school where students are involved in all Château activities.
They make a lighter, fresher style wine called Les Brumes (wine on the left). The deeply golden grand vin (on right side) is deep golden in color and had alluring aromas and beautifully round and long flavors that included caramel, dried apricot and coconut.
Château de Rayne Vigneau produces a no sulfite added Sauternes style wine called Audace, the audacity of them! More in line with new wave releases, it’s spunky, medium sweet with a hint of smokiness. A fun, drink now wine, please invite friends!
Château d’Arche is another winery to open a hotel. Their modern building and tasting room reminds me of the same in Sonoma/Napa. The wines are worthy too! I didn’t get a good photo of the tasting room. Below is their second wine and a photo of the side of the building.
Château Briatte is a fresh breath, down-to-earth, no frills winery. Michel Roudes is the third generation to manage their eighteen hectares of vines. The wines offer remarkable value. Imagine an authentic Sauternes for 12€ to 25€ per bottle.
Another such winery is Château La Bouade. These guys love what they do and welcome you with open arms. From new wave, fresh style to classic Sauternes that show the unique character of their terroir, one of our favorite smaller Sauternes wineries farming organically.
While there are so many more, we’ll finish with the Dubourdieu family winery Château Doisy-Daënes, who recently completed a stunning winery face lift. This is where Mark did one of his internships. They also own the Sauternes-style wineries Château Haura and Château Chantegril, and Clos Floridene, who by the way makes a stunning Bordeaux Blanc.
Hope you enjoyed our #worldsauternesday tour!