Opening day set for Bordeaux’s ‘Guggenheim of wine’

Bordeaux’s new €81m (£58m) Cité du Vin wine centre will open on June 2 2016, it has been announced. [Read more…]

Bordeaux 2014: First impression – Pessac Leognan and Graves

There are two clear stylistic camps for the Bordeaux 2014 vintage in Pessac-Leognan and Graves, writes Jane Anson, who offers her first general impression of the wines before rating them for Decanter. [Read more…]

France Meets China: Foie Gras Dumplings With Cilantro Beef Consommé

 

The Bordeaux-based chefs group AFAMÉS is headed up by journalist José Ruiz, who taps the organization for regionally influenced recipes and compiles them in a series of cookbooks. The latest, Foie Gras Sud-Ouest [Read more…]

6 things to know about Sauternes, Bordeaux’s liquid gold

Due to its high acidity and sugar levels, Sauternes can age beautifully. Over time, its hallmark golden hue deepens into an almost copper color, and flavors of honeyed tropical fruit turn into notes of caramel, spice and crème brûlée. (iStock)

The holiday season is a time to indulge, and Sauternes — the sweet white wine from France’s Bordeaux region — is a perfect fit.

Made from sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle grapes, Sauternes is often overshadowed by Bordeaux’s revered reds. But Berenice Lurton, president of the Classified Growths of Sauternes and Barsac and owner of the Sauternes-producing Chateau Climens wine estate in Barsac, France, says the sweet wine has unique features that are worth exploring.

1. “Noble rot” is good

It sound a little gross, but Botrytis cinerea, aka “noble rot,” is one of the things that make Sauternes so special. A microscopic fungus that creates some of the finest sweet wines in the world, it shrivels the grapes on the vine, effectively concentrating their flavor and sugars. “There are a hundred times more aromatic molecules in a wine made with noble rotted grapes, making their delicious juice extremely viscous and sweet,” Lurton says. (For more about Botrytis cinerea, click here.)

2. It’s all about the region

Sauternes depends on a unique microclimate for its production. Located 25 miles southeast of the city of Bordeaux, the Sauternes region is located along the Ciron, a cold tributary of the warmer Garonne River. In the warm, dry autumn months, the temperature difference between the rivers creates a mist that descends on the vineyards in the evening and remains until late morning. This is an ideal climate for “noble rot,” and Sauternes is one of the few places in the world where it occurs on a regular basis. But there are no guarantees. Weather conditions dictate the amount of grapes available for harvest in any given vintage. (For more on the region, click here.)

3. They age well

Due to its high acidity and sugar levels, Sauternes can age beautifully. Over time, its hallmark golden hue deepens into an almost copper color, and flavors of honeyed tropical fruit turn into notes of caramel, spice and crème brûlée. An opened bottle of Sauternes will keep longer in the fridge than a red or white wine. And while you can age these wines for decades, they are also delicious in their youth. “Nothing like a glass of Sauternes after a tiring working day, alone or with friends, to get back to life,” says Lurton.

4. They’re versatile

Sauternes has a reputation as a dessert wine, but Lorton says “all these restrictive labels which have been stuck on them for decades” have hidden its versatility. Because Sauternes strikes a balance of sweetness and acidity, it pairs well with savory dishes, including foie gras, roast chicken, blue cheese and spicy cuisine.“If you try a Sauternes with Thai, Chinese or Indian food, you will be completely baffled!” Lurton says. “They are also wonderful with cheeses and light desserts with seasonal or dry fruits.”

5. Sensuality in a glass

When sipping Sauternes alone, you can appreciate all the intricate layers of fruit, flowers and spice. Gorgeous aromas and flavors of honey, orange, apricot, grapefruit, ginger, acacia blossom, nutmeg and even saffron can often be found in Sauternes. “It is a luxury perfume in the glass, and the taste of it is a perfect melding of sweetness and freshness,” Lurton says. “For me, it is nothing but sensuality in a glass.”

6. It’s an old, respected wine

In 1855, Emperor Napoleon III set up a ranking system or classification for Bordeaux wines. In addition to the five-class system for reds, Sauternes and Barsac (another sweet Bordeaux white) were given their own classification. They were placed into two tiers — First Growths, which included nine wines (including Chateau Climens), and Second Growths, which included 11 wines, as well as “Superior First Growth” for Chateau d’Yquem, of which no red wine was deemed worthy. There have been a few minor changes to Sauternes’ classification since then, and it continues to have a stellar reputation today.

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6 things to know about Sauternes, Bordeaux’s liquid gold

 

The 5 Best Wine Pairings for Easter Lamb

Lamb is traditionally–and symbolically–the main dish at Easter dinner. I like it so much, I cook it all year long. But, according to a survey by the American Lamb Board, almost 40% of Americans have never tasted this luscious cut of meat. If you’re one of them, this is the season to try it, along with some beautiful red wines. Younger (spring!) lambs taste milder and less gamey, but still deliver a richness that rivals steak. That makes the meat ideal for dry, fruit-forward red wines. [Read more…]

Slings and Arrows in Bordeaux

Another lawsuit erupts out of the controversial St.-Emilion classification. Plus, do older drinkers get drunk faster? [Read more…]

Downton Abbey Wines Unveiled!

Make room on your pop-culture-themed bar cart—somewhere near the Game of Thrones beer and Pitt-Jolie rosé. Downton Abbey has unveiled its official Bordeaux collection, which is available for purchase in the U.S. on November 1, 2013. (As a cruel twist of fate, the U.K., which receives the series first, will have to wait until later this year to uncork their own post-Edwardian-era-inspired liquors.) [Read more…]

Second Bordeaux storm destroys 4,000ha costing ‘€20 million at the very least’

Bordeaux’s main white wine growing region, Entre-deux-Mers, has been hit by a massive hailstorm damaging about 4,000 hectares of vines with many producers losing almost their entire crop. [Read more…]

Work Begins on Bordeaux ‘Wine City’

The first stone at what will be Bordeaux’s new wine museum was laid at the Quai de Bacalan. [Read more…]

An Introduction to the wines at RAW

Some maintain that wine has never been better, cleaner, more consistent, or travelled so well as it does today. Equally, wine has never been made with so many pesticides, additives, preservatives and processes. [Read more…]