Discovering Sweet Sauternes Wines
Sauternes is a sweet wine that has a long history in the Bordeaux region of France. The production of Sauternes is unique, as it requires the grapes to be infected with a specific fungus called Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This fungus causes the grapes to become dehydrated, which concentrates the sugars and flavors. The resulting wine has a rich, honeyed flavor with notes of apricot, peach, and honeycomb.
The process of producing Sauternes is labor-intensive and requires a lot of attention to detail. The grapes are handpicked in several passes, as only the grapes that have been infected with noble rot can be used. The grapes are then pressed, and the juice is fermented in oak barrels. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months, during which time it develops its characteristic complexity and depth.
The region of Sauternes is located within the larger Graves region of Bordeaux. The soil in Sauternes is unique, as it is a mix of clay, sand, and limestone. This soil gives the grapes their distinctive character and contributes to the flavor of the wine. The region is also known for its microclimate, which is ideal for the development of noble rot. The river Ciron flows through the region, creating a humid environment that is perfect for the growth of the fungus required for Sauternes production.
The history of Sauternes dates back to the 17th century, when a nobleman named Marquis de Lur-Saluces discovered the benefits of noble rot. He began producing Sauternes on his estate, Chateau d'Yquem, which is still considered one of the best producers of Sauternes today. Since then, many other estates in the region have started producing Sauternes, but only a few can match the quality and reputation of Chateau d'Yquem.
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