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What is Sauternes?

Sauternes is white and it’s sweet . . . and it only comes from Bordeaux. It’s famous, classic and pretty much timeless. It’s one of the most sought after wines in the world and yet nobody seems to know about it . . . unless you are a wine boffin or belong to an older generation.

Nectar of the gods
  • It’s famous, and has been for centuries. Sauternes’ highly prized wines are often called ‘Liquid Gold’ and ‘Nectar of the Gods’. Once tasted, you’ll understand why.

  • It’s classic as Sauternes has been drunk as a dessert wine or after dinner drink by discerning royalty and nobility the world over. Think Port, but ‘white’. However unlike Port, Sauternes isn’t fortified. It’s pure, unadulterated genius in a glass.

  • It’s timeless because this is a long lived wine. A rare few can age in bottle for 100+ years and some of the oldest surviving bottles are said to date back to 1784. A few years back an 1811 Premier Cru Sauternes, Chateau d’Yquem, sold for £75,000.
Sauternes pairs with seafood, creamy dishes, fruit, nuts, cheese, desserts and pates

Total these all up and you are starting to get the picture. Add in the exquisite flavour, the heavenly aromas and lingering finish and you’ll see why Sauternes is so special.

What does it taste like?

Sweetness doesn’t have to mean cloying, sticky or syrupy. Sauternes is so amazingly balanced that with the sweet you get the sour. In the case of these wines ‘the sour’ is a mouthwatering zesty acidity that cuts through its honeyed tones.

  • These wonderful wines have flavours of apricots, peaches, dried pineapple, nuts and honey and the finish lasts on the palate for a long time. Their colour is gold which darkens with time to a deep copper.
While Sauternes has mysterious origins it has been around since the late 1600s

Of course you don’t have to pay out £75,000 to enjoy a glass for yourself. These sweet wines can be expensive, it’s a labour of love for the winemaker as it’s difficult to make. It’s said that one grape vine only makes enough juice to make one glass of Sauternes. But the fact that this mysterious, half forgotten wine flies under the radar works well for us Brits. Sauternes covers 5 communes and there are a myriad of small producers fighting the odds to produce this ambrosia. Therefore bargains can be found and, what a bargain they are!

If you’d like to learn more check out our Bordeaux AOC pages where you can discover more on the history and heritage of Bordelaise sweet wines.

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