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Sauternes Appellation

Famous for it's dessert wine

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Part of the Graves region of Bordeaux, this wine is made using mainly Sémillion grapes, with some Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle to produce a sweet, rich wine which often has a spicy flavour. It is golden-honey in colour, becoming darker as it ages. 

The area has a specific microclimate which encourages the growth of the mould botrytis cinerea (also known as noble rot) that creates the sweet wine. It feeds off the moisture rich ripe grapes which leaves them dehydrated and more concentrated in sugar.

Because the production of noble rot is weather dependant, yields can be low and hence the wine is often expensive. Sauternes wine is often at its best after 10 or 20 years. The most acclaimed wine château producing Sauternes is the Château d'Yquem and it can be incredibly difficult to visit if you're not in the wine industry. The sweet wines from nearby Barsac fell within the Sauternes appellation during the 1855 Bordeaux Classification though they also have the right to use their own appellation name.

Notable vineyards

Chateau Suduiraut sits next to the vineyards of d'Yquem and is slightly easier to visit! The wines are well balanced and powerful, and the vineyard has an excellent reputation. You can book tours from Monday to Saturday, they also run Aroma Workshops.

Also on the border of d'Yquem vineyards is Chateau Rieussec. The vineyard falls under the umbrella of Domaines Barons de Rothschild, and produces a deep golden wine that the experts say can rival those from Yquem. Visits are by appointment only and the estate is closed from August to November.

Chateau Filhot is is the far south east of the Graves region, close to the town of Sauternes. So as you may expect, only sweet wine is produced here, in a classic Sauternes style. 

Chateau de Malle is a grand estate, with an impressive chateau and formal Italian style gardens. It is located across both the Graves and Sauternes appellations and makes seriously good Grand Cru Classe Sauternes sweet wine. In addition, look out for the red Graves Chateau de Cardaillan, and the rare dry white wine M. de Malle. The chateau is open for visits from April until the end of October 2.00pm to 6.00pm.

Chateau La Tour Blanche has been classified as a Premier Cru Classe in 1855, and today has regained such recognition in the industry. The wine produced is rich, exotic and can be aged for many years. You can visit year-round (you can book online) from Monday to Friday. There is also an educational walk you can take around the vineyard for free.

Chateau Graves is another producer of the sweet Sauternes wine. It presents it's wine in quirky containers to help it stand out from the crowd. The estate has welcomed visitors for many years and is open throughout the year, and won the 'Best of Wine Tourism Gold' in 2014 in the 'Art & Culture' category.

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