The Lur Saluces family took over this Sauternes estate in 1472. Three centuries later, that same family took over the now-famous Chateau d’Yquem. Chateau de Fargues overs 170 hectares, but only 15 are planted to vines. 80% is Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc (the same break up as d’Yquem).
This is made identically to the famous d’Yquem estate; the only difference is terroir. De Fargues offers lightness and grace, refreshing acidity and plenty of complex marmalade and citrus notes. The sweetness was at a perfect level for end of night sipping or starting the evening. There is so much complexity here; you just have to try it to understand it.
Situated near the Atlantic coast of France. The Gironde, Dordogne and Garonne rivers provide its shape. Cool conditions and frequent rainfall, including during harvest time, make Bordeaux quite a marginal region with vintages frequently ruined by rain or saved from the rain at the last minute by timely sunshine.
The undisputed headline act when it comes to sweet wines. Using thin-skinned white varieties and having adequate rainfall and humidity in the vineyard means the noble rot botrytis cinerea can take hold and dehydrate the grapes on the vine. Taking away moisture but leaving sugar, acid and flavour behind. The resulting sweet wines are thick, intense and structure. The balance of acid and sugar make these wines able to evolve over many years. The great wines are some of the most expensive in the world.
A somewhat shy variety that is most famous for balancing Sauvignon Blanc’s overt tendencies in table wines and sauternes styles. It found a home in the Hunter where the early picked wines can live for 50 years.
Hero to many, weed to many more. Sauvignon Blanc sure does divide people. The pure expression of Sauvignon fruit is a stunning and exuberant array of tropical fruits with ripe herbs and plant material. It excels in the chalk, clay and sand of the Loire as well as the beautiful vineyards in Bordeaux for dry white and Sauternes production, where Semillon curbs its outgoing nature.
The land that so many New World (not European) wine producers look to emulate. To generalise about French wine, I would say it is savoury, lighter-bodied wines. They are the definition of elegant, complex. There are many styles, though. And there is a French wine for every palate. They lead the world in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy. Sparkling Wine in Champagne. Cabernet and Merlot in Bordeaux. Syrah(Shiraz) and Grenache in the Rhone Valley. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris in Alsace. Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley. Gamay in Beaujolais.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is pretty special. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product. This includes the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. This is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Botrytis is called “the noble rot” when it is desired, or “Oh $%&#” when it appears any other time. It is most effective against the thinner skinned grapes and dehydrates the berry. This leaves behind all the sugar, flavour and acid, though. Botrytis is a helpful ally in making sweet wines. In Sauternes and Barsac in Bordeaux, they use heavily botrytised grapes to make dense, rich, sweet, concentrated, complex wines that live forever. In other regions, they may use a small portion of botrytised grapes to achieve a different balance of flavours.
It is interesting to know that you can make white wine from almost any grape. The colour comes from the skins, and if there is no contact, there is no colour. White wines tend to be delicate, perfumed, higher in acid and lower in alcohol. It seems for this and many other reasons, it is hard to make an incredibly impressive white wine. But those that have mastered the art are indeed some of the best winemakers in the world.
It is a falsehood to think that white wine does not age as well as red wine. But it is correct that white wine, as a rule, doesn’t age for as long.
A lot of people refuse to consider a wine if there is any hint of sugar. But sweet wine is a valid and entirely enjoyable part of the wine spectrum. So long as it has one thing – balance. Yep, that is right; I am talking about balance again. In the context of sweet wine, it means that the wine has enough acid, phenolic grip (tannins), body and savoury characters to balance out the sugar, so the wine is not cloying or sickly.
The best sweet wines Are some of the most complex wines you are likely to taste, they have the ability to linger on your palate a lot longer than most dry wines, and they have a huge ability to age for a long time. They can also match with foods that dry wines just can’t. Desserts, fruits and strong cheeses, just to name a few. Bear in mind that not all of these are seriously sweet; lightly sweet wines have their place and can be mighty refreshing.
By the best I am thinking German Riesling, Italian Moscato, Sauternes (see Bordeaux Offer), Moelleux and Demi-Sec wines from the Loire (see the Pichot Offer), Icewine (Eiswein) from Canada and Germany, Moscatel from Spain, to name a few (without even touching on fortifieds).
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.