Bostrytis Cinerea you beautiful devil. Sauternes is a world famous sweet white wine produced in the…get ready for some geography…Sauternes region located in the Graves region of Bordeaux, France. This wine is made from Semillon (upwards of 90%), Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected with Bostrytis Cinerea which in the wine world is known as Noble Rot. While rotting fruit may not look appetizing, Noble Rot causes magic to happen in Satuernes. The rot dehydrates the grapes leaving highly concentrated and very sweet grapes for winemakers to work with. The result is one of the most unique and most expensive wines in the world.
Fun Sauternes facts:
– Exceptional aging potential with exceptional vintages having potential beyond 100 years.
– Chateau d’Yquem is widely regarded as the best producer in the world.
– Since it’s produced in such a small area inferior vintages are sometimes completely disgarded. How often does this happen? at Chateau d’Yquem it’s only happened 10 times: 1900, 1915, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1964, 1972, 1974. 1992, and 2012.
– Sauternes has the honor of being the most expensive wine ever sold.
– Typically sold in 375 ml bottles although regular sizes are available in some cases.
– In 2006 Chateau d’Yquem sold a 135 year vertical tasting from 1860-2003 for $1.5 million dollars.
– In 2011 a bottle of 1811 Chateau d’Yquem sold for for $117,000 to a French sommelier.
– Thomas Jefferson is on record ordering 250 bottles of the 1784 Chateau d’Yquem for himself and George Washington.
So what’s all the fuss about? Sauternes attains a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity along with flavor depth to provide a unique experience. It is full bodied and has a wealth of fruit and nut flavor…it reminds me of a more complex and full mead. This wine will delight your palate for several minutes with it’s long and smooth finish. Served at the right temperature (around 52 degrees) this is truly the nectar of the Gods. Sounds like the perfect desert wine right? Don’t be fooled! While it’s a great desert option if you’re not into port, Sauternes will pair well with a variety of foods….don’t be afraid to have it with your dinner.
Onto the relatively no-name Chateau Laribotte Moby and I tried the other night. Shockingly we couldn’t afford a $250 bottle of 2005 Chateau d’Yquem so we went with the $20 option. At $20 this is considered to be an excellent “value” Sauternes so expect to pay AT LEAST $20 for a 375 ml bottle from a decent Chateau. Lists of reputable Chateaus can be easily found online.
I’ll help you out with the pronunciation so you don’t sound silly at the store. Say it like this: Soh/tehrn. Kind of like turn but with an eh sound instead. It’s very French…why not just spell it that way?
colonelgrape: 94. This wine was unbelievably good. Light, fresh flavors of melon and vanilla along with a honey, nuts, and minerals. There was sweetness and acidity with a full body that balanced nicely, the wine coated our glass as we swirled and observed it. The finish was incredibly long, lasting a couple minutes. I’m told this is actually not a very sweet Sauternes so I can’t wait to get out there and try some different examples. Unless you live under a rock and hate sweet things, you 100% need to spend the money and try a Sauternes.
MobyGrape: 93. This stuff was awesome. At first I was 100% convinced the Colonel was trying to trick me and snuck mead in my glass to see if I could tell the difference. It was very sweet and had a touch of honey flavor to it. If you don’t like wines like this (and that means there’s a problem with you), don’t even bother. I would serve this as a dessert wine, I’m not sure if that’s what you’re supposed to do with it but it’s like drinking rich liquid candy. I feel like food would ruin it somehow, but who knows, it might go well with a super strong stinky cheese? Their powers combined might make for a Captain Planet-esque dining experience. Except for Heart, I mean really, what was he good for? Anyways, who knew rotting grapes could taste so good! Go out and get some of this!