When I received the Snooth invitation to taste Sweet Bordeaux, my mind immediately went to Sauternes. I was surprised to learn that only 43% of the dessert wines produced in Bordeaux don the Sauternes label – there is an entire other world out there as 10 Bordeaux AOC’s produce sweet wine. Those regions are: Sauternes, Barsac, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Loupiac, Cadillac, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Graves Supérieures, Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire, Cérons, and Bordeaux Supérieur.
Our tasting was led my one of my favorite wine educators Fred Swan and Mark Angelillo, the CEO of Snooth. They virtually tasted our group through a selection of eight Sweet Bordeaux wines. Fred talked about his tour of sweet wine producers in Bordeaux where he could experience the harvest. Click here to listen to the conversation and follow along our virtual chat.
You all know that Bordeaux is known for the elegant red and white wines that are amongst the world’s most coveted. Sweet wine production makes up less than three percent of Bordeaux’s total vineyard area.
These wines are created through a process called Botrytis Cinerea or “Noble Rot”. It is a perfect climatic storm in which a fungus attacks the entire metabolism of the grape resulting from the morning foggy mists from nearby bodies of water to the warm and dry afternoons with the sun beating overhead. This fungus causes the grapes to over ripen and then shrivel, so the sugar content is concentrated. Each grape is hand harvested by cluster and because there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, harvest can take months.
There are three grapes that are blended into these wines – Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadet. The thin-skin of the Semillon dominates the blend.
These wines are known for being classic pairings with foie gras, stinky cheeses and classic desserts such as crème brulee. However, favorite pairing ideas during our discussion included raw oysters, fried chicken, Indian curries, Thai, Ethiopian, and Chinese, Korean BBQ, lobster rolls, pasta carbonara, potato chips, roasted duck, chicken or pork.
Here was our lineup of wines:
2015 Chateau Manos Cadillac Bordeaux France: I tasted notes of honey, tropical fruits, apricot, spice and citrus.
2014 Chateau La Rame Sainte Croix du Mont Bordeaux France: I tasted marmalade, honey, candied fruit, floral notes and some spice.
2014 Chateau Du Cros Loupiac Bordeaux France: This was one of my favorites as I was enchanted with the flowers, white fruits, tropical fruits and honey.
2009 Chateau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac Bordeaux France: This was easy to drink with notes of orange blossom, dried apricot, honeysuckle, stone fruit and minerality.
2014 Chateau Lauvignac Cuvee Sahuc Sauternes Bordeaux France: I tasted notes of peach, honey, apples, tropical fruit and almond.
2014 Chateau Lapinesse Sauternes Bordeaux France: My absolute favorite. This was the most complete wine of the bunch. Big notes of tropical fruit, honeycomb, almonds with a great balance and minerality.
2015 Haut Charmes Sauternes Bordeaux France: I tasted pineapple, apricot and candied ginger as well as some spice.
2009 Chateau Filhot Sauternes Bordeaux France: I tasted candied orange, hazelnut, fig, citrus and honey.
*Note: these notes were provided as media samples.