As a wine lover, I was extremely disappointed in myself that I had NO idea about Sauternes wine. But really, I had NEVER heard of this until our trip to Bordeaux, France in 2018. It is now my duty to share everything I know about this white wine with all my other wine lovers. Am I right?
Sauternes (pronounced saw-turn) is a "rotten" dessert white wine with an interesting history.
Sauternes is named after the region, Sauternes of the Graves area on the left bank of Bordeaux. The grapes used for this wine are Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Dating back to the 17th century, consuming these rotten grapes were kept hush-hush. It wasn't until the 18th century that this wine had become internationally famous. Fun fact: President George Washington tasted this wine and became a fan! He then ordered 30 bottles after tasting Château d’Yquem.
Noble rot, have you heard of it? Noble rot is a fungus that can affect wine grapes. So we know this is a fungus in the grapes, but how does it work? The infection starts when the grape is ripe. Once ripe and infected, the exposed grape begins to shrivel and dry out, forcing the fungus to thrive! As the grapes lose their water, the sugar within the grape becomes the dominant content of the grape, making the grapes sweet and high in alcohol. (To be considered a Sauternes wine, the alcohol level must be a minimum of 13%) Since the grapes are losing so much water, more grapes are needed to make this wine compared to wine with uninfected grapes.
So how does this white wine taste? Very sweet and heavy. The best way to describe the flavor is eating a fruit like an apricot or peach dipped in honey. The color is very golden as well! Typically this wine is sold in half bottles. This wine is not cheap! A good bottle will cost you around $50.
This "rotten wine" is best paired with fruit, cheesecake and light desserts like crème brûlée or panna cotta.
Josh and I visited Chateau La Tour Blanche du ring our visit to Bordeaux! Fun fact: This Chateau was ranked as Premier Crus (First Growth) in the original 1855 classification of wine requested by Emperor Napoleon III. This classification included the best wines in France from the Bordeaux region to display for visitors.
Have you ever heard of Sauternes?! If so, what do you think of it? I would love to hear all about your experience!