Spotlight on Sauternes

Sauternes is home to arguably the most prestigious, long-lived sweet wines in the world. Located 65 km south of the city of Bordeaux at the southern tip of the Graves, the appellation has 2100 ha of vineyards planted on flat, alluvial gravels overlying thick layers of limestone.

Although viewed as one appellation, Sauternes actually consists of five communes; Barsac, Bommes, Fargues, Preignanc, and Sauternes. Somewhat confusingly Barsac is also a designated appellation in itself.

What makes Sauternes unique is its special mesoclimate caused by the confluence of the Ciron and the Garonne rivers. The region experiences evening mists in autumn which set in until late morning and are subsequently burnt off by warm sunny afternoons. It is precisely these conditions that provide the ideal environment for the growth of botrytis cinerea – a fungus that attacks the grapes, causing them to dehydrate leaving sweet shrivelled fruit, ideal for sweet wine production. Sauternes wines are made predominantly from Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc with small amounts of Muscadelle.

The Sauternes appellation has 26 classified growths comprised of 11 first growths and 14 second growths. At the very top of the classification is Chateau d’Yquem designated Premier Cru Supérieur) and widely considered the greatest sweet wine in the world.

Golden in colour with enticing aromas and flavours of honey, acacia, stone-fruit, candied citrus and marmalade, classic Sauternes is rich, unctuous and beautifully balanced by fresh acidity.  Capable of long-ageing, the wines turn deep amber with age, taking on more complex caramel flavours over time.

Want to experience Sauternes for yourself? Discover Langton’s range of Sauternes here.

Andrea Pritzker, Langton's

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