The district of Sauternes produces a French sweet wines and is situated in the Graves area of Bordeaux. The wines are created from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes but it is the local misty climate formed as the Ciron and Garonne rivers meet that cause ‘Botrytis Cinerea’ or Noble Rot, particularly on the Semillon. This is what makes these wines so special since Botrytis causes the grapes to shrivel and become partially raisined. This in turn concentrates the flavours and sugars and ultimately gives the wines their rich luscious intensity. The high sugar content of the late harvested grapes will only partially ferment thus leaving the residual sugars in the wine along with apricot, honey, and peach flavours with a slightly nutty note and a long delicious finish that really lasts.
Sauternes is the main area with Barsac lying within the region. Other sweet wine areas surround here such as Monbazillac, Cerons, Lupiac, Cadillac but somehow Sauternes stands out. Perhaps the greatest of them all is Chateau Yquem, the only Sauternes Chateau to feature in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. The wines are specialist, sweet, with great concentration and style. Their secret may lie in the Noble Rot but equally the skill of keeping a balance of acidity is important to maintain a slight crispness. Served slightly chilled with the dessert course or with cheese, these wines are superb. Other favoutites to look out for are Château Coutet, Rieussec, Filhot, Suduiraut and Rayne Vigneau.