Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Open Doors in Sauternes

This weekend was the turn of the famous region of Sauternes to have their ‘portes ouvertes’, which is when all the chateaux of the region participate in receiving the public through the open doors for tastings without the usual pre reserved and sometimes difficult ‘rendez vous’.

The region of Sauternes is only an hour away from Castillon, but the terroir, wines and countryside is very different indeed, so Libby and I decided to take a trip to out to see what was going on the other side!

As we entered the region, many Chateaux were still harvesting so we couldn’t resist stopping to taste the noble rot berries still on the vine.

Although the extraordinary Baguette vending machine we came across in the village was tempting it wasn’t enough to entice us and we headed to the reputed Le Saprien restaurant in the centre of Sauternes village instead!

A nice glass of Domaine Monteils 2005 and a 2003 Chateau Arche whilst sat in the sunny conservatory looking out over the vineyards started the lunch perfectly! Sauternes is actually a very versatile wine and certainly should not be drank as just a dessert wine. The rule is once you start with Sauternes you should continue with Sauternes and the veal with morilles mushrooms and scallops for Libby were very diverse dishes, but both a very good match indeed.

After lunch we wandered up the Maison de Sauternes, tasted a few more wines and treated ourselves to a 1998 Chateau Caillou, I like this wine as it is made in the very traditional style with a lot of acidity perfect for savoury food matching, try out our 2006 Grand Chai Sauternes as it is made in this style.

Before heading on we stopped at a few of the top Chateaux including Château Rieussec where they were busy harvesting, Château Rayne Vigneau, Château Filhot and finally Château Yquem.

The gastronomic weekend continued, and there are not many things better than eating the oysters of the Bassin d’Archachon whilst in Arcachon! The best months to eat oysters are those ending in ‘r’ (or ‘e’ in French). The November oysters are small fine, and crystal clear. To burn off the over indulgence of quite a few oysters we climbed the magnificent dune de Pyla that rises spectacularly to 110m up from the Domaniale de la Teste Forest.

Once again it was back to the Chai in the evening to check on the young wines, after which James kindly brought a 2006 Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc to go with our organic chicken. It’s been a while since I tasted it but was soon reminded what a wine, explosive aromas and balanced palate – fresh as daisy too, I love screw caps!


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