Sauternes & Barsac

Decanter - - VINTAGE PREVIEW: BORDEAUX 2019 -

The av­er­age yield of the clas­si­fied growths in 2019 was 10hl/ha – less than half the allowable max­i­mum yield of 25hl/ha in these ap­pel­la­tions (which it­self is about half that of most Bordeaux red wine APs). Wine­mak­ers had to wait for no­ble rot to set in, af­ter beau­ti­ful sum­mer con­di­tions that lasted well un­til late Septem­ber. The botry­tis even­tu­ally de­vel­oped in early Oc­to­ber, on al­ready con­cen­trated grapes, re­sult­ing in lus­cious flavours. How­ever, sour rot also set in quickly and there was a race against time to sort the grapes as fast as pos­si­ble, with some es­tates los­ing up to two-thirds of grapes. Hav­ing said that, these tal­ented wine­mak­ers are ac­cus­tomed to chal­lenges, and among the best es­tates I found 2019 to be not only rich and con­cen­trated but also pre­cise, with high aro­mat­ics and good bal­ance over­all. Some great Sauternes and Barsac wines to choose from – and as ever, some truly ex­cel­lent dry whites.

1 TOP SCOR­ING Château Doisy- Daëne, L’Ex­trav­a­gant 98

As ever with this wine, you wait for the hit of sweet­ness that seems in­evitable when you see the name and in­stead you are sur­prised by just how tight the flavours are, and how soar­ing the lift on the fin­ish. Apri­cot bal­anced by apri­cot pit, creamy cit­rus bal­anced by cit­rus peel and zest, all rolled up with white truf­fle and soft pep­per notes. Drink 2022-2050 Alc 12.9%

2 TOP SCOR­ING Château Lafau­riePeyragu­ey 1CC 98

An ab­so­lutely de­li­cious wine, just drip­ping with apri­cot, nec­tarine, white truf­fle and ginger, with a zing of le­mon zest tak­ing things up a notch through the fin­ish.

Fleshy yet flinty, silky tex­ture, bril­liant.

Will age for decades too. Drink 2022-2045

Château Coutet 1CC 97

In­tense ex­otic fruits abound, pow­er­ful apri­cot, nec­tarine, white flow­ers and white truf­fles with ex­cel­lent bit­ter al­monds on the fin­ish that works so well as a coun­ter­point to the lux­u­ri­ous tex­ture. I love this, silky and se­duc­tive yet strict. Drink 2022-2050

Château de Far­gues 97

Easy to get a crush on this wine in 2019. Ex­pertly whipped-up ginger and spice pulses right across the palate, giv­ing a coun­ter­point to the creamy, silky fruits. You get the full ar­ray of flavours here – nec­tarine, cit­rus, white peach and pink grape­fruit are per­haps the most dom­i­nant. Grips on tightly with a hint of steel de­spite the ev­i­dent con­cen­tra­tion. This is bril­liant. Drink 2022-2045 Alc 13.7%

Château Doisy- Daëne 2CC 96

Ut­terly mor­eish and mouth­fill­ing, tons of creamy le­mon tart, flaky pas­try against rich nec­tarine, tart cit­rus and lime. Clearly this is a con­cen­trated and gourmet year, but this has de­li­cious bal­ance. Ex­cel­lent qual­ity, love it. Drink 2022-2045 Alc 13.2%

Château Doisy-Vé­drines 2CC 96

This is a vin­tage that re­ally suits the Barsac wines, be­cause they have the con­cen­tra­tion and richess that is in­evitable with the heat and small yields of 2019, but still man­age a grip and salin­ity that en­sures bril­liant bal­ance and a mor­eish, mouth­wa­ter­ing fin­ish. With orange peel on the fin­ish, this is great. Drink 2020-2048 Alc 13.8%

Château Guiraud 1CC 96

The fresh­ness that you al­ways get in Guiraud is par­tic­u­larly wel­come among the rich style of Sauternes in 2019, and this is def­i­nitely one to rec­om­mend and seek out. Cit­rus, lime and lime zest, a lovely up­lift on the fin­ish and clear saline twist on the fin­ish. Drink 2022-2050 Alc 13.5%

3 TOP VALUE Do­maine de L’Al­liance, Esquisse 96

The most beau­ti­ful tightrope bal­anc­ing act of sweet nec­tarine flesh with in­tense lime and le­mon zest. One of the best Sauternes you can find, with­out ques­tion one to con­vert the doubters. It’s not as lus­cious as some – per­haps some will be dis­ap­pointed as it’s not hugely sweet – but it has laser-like fo­cus and great struc­ture, and for me it is an ex­am­ple of where Sauternes can suc­cess­fully go to find new con­sumers. One of the names to watch in this ap­pel­la­tion. Or­ganic. Drink 2021-2042

Château Ray­mond- La­fon 95

En­tic­ingly golden colour, con­cen­tra­tion on the at­tack which gives way to a per­fectly judged bal­ance of fresh acidi­ties and creamy nec­tarine and white peach fruits. Silky tex­ture all the way through, with a just-bit­ter-enough cit­rus and orange zest fin­ish. A bril­liant Ray­mond La­fon, one of my favourites for years. Drink 2022-2042

Château Si­galas Rabaud 1CC 95

This is a great Sauternes, an ex­pert mix of rich, creamy stone fruits and deep can­died ginger notes that add the most beau­ti­ful spice and just the right amount of bit­ter­ness. Lovely tex­ture, ex­cel­lent qual­ity. Drink 2022-2045 Alc 13.5%

Clos Haut- Peyraguey 1CC 94

Bernard Ma­grez has owned this clas­si­fied prop­erty since 2012, and Michel Rol­land is con­sul­tant. This is liq­uid silk, lus­cious in this vin­tage, with orange zest on the fin­ish adding a wel­come point of bit­ter­ness. Tasted three times. 35% of pro­duc­tion in this first wine. Drink 2022-2040

TOP VALUE Château La Tour Blanche 1CC 93

Pink grape­fruit and cit­rus hit you from the off, a lovely mix of sweet and tart. There’s a silk­i­ness that be­comes clear from the mid-palate on­wards and the Semil­lon is very much dom­i­nant in its tex­ture and succulence. Drink 2022-2042 Alc 13.5%

For full tast­ing notes of all the wines fea­tured here, among nearly 1,000 in all that Jane An­son tasted from Bordeaux 2019 en primeur, PLUS com­pre­hen­sive vin­tage analysis and all the prices and stock­ists on re­lease – see Decanter.com/Pre­mium

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