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Deliciously fresh and fruity Sauternes made at the Dubourdieus' small, beautifully managed estate, Cantegril. The 2016 has excellent balance with hints of apricot and orange marmalade.
Product Code: BW6092
View all products by Denis Dubourdieu
The late and much missed Denis Dubourdieu, who died in the summer of 2016, did more than follow his winemaking father and grandfather’s footsteps. A professor of oenology since 1987, he has been described in the past as wine’s most famous scientist, and he advised some of the greatest properties in the world, including Cheval Blanc and Yquem. His skills were highly sought after.Denis and his wife Florence ran several Bordeaux properties : Château Doisy-Daëne, Clos Floridène, Château Reynon (purchased by his father-in-law Pierre in 1958 and where Florence and Denis moved upon their marriage in 1976), Château Cantegril and Château Haura. The management of these estates now falls to Florence and his eminently capable sons, Fabrice and Jean-Jacques. As well as their legendary sweet wines, they also produce an impressive range of dry reds and whites.The Dubourdieu family owns 135 hectares of vineyards in the Sauternes, Graves, and Cadillac-Cotes de Bordeaux regions. They use a traditional ploughing system, and are committed friends of the environment: they no longer use weed killer, they fertilise the vines with organic manure, and all bud removal, trellising and leaf removal is done by hand. Their carbon footprint is a conscious issue too: they own a forest equal to the size of their vineyards as a way of repaying their debt to the land.Although there are a few notable exceptions, much of the family’s vineyards are planted on the famous Barsac red sands, composed of red clay on a limestone subsoil. This slightly porous rock stores water throughout winter that can be dispensed to the vines during summer dry spells.Clos Floridène, named after both Florence and Denis, was established in 1982 to complement Florence’s family property at Reynon and Denis’ at Doisy-Daëne. Unusually in Graves, the soil is based on limestone, which allows them to make a distinctive, floral, cabernet-based red that ages well for up to a decade and a remarkable, mineral white deserving of ageing for two to ten years. Both are excellent value.Doisy-Daëne has been owned by the Dubourdieu family since 1924. Denis' father, Pierre Dubourdieu, was one of the most original and inventive winemakers in the region, constantly experimenting, and the first on his property to make a delicious and successful dry white, Doisy Daëne Sec.Denis clearly followed in his father's footsteps: he became a professor at Bordeaux University and was acknowledged as the leading Bordeaux expert in white wine in Bordeaux. Château Reynon, which was Denis and Florence Dubourdieu’s home property, is managed and harvested, parcel by parcel, with the same care as the family's famous Sauternes, Doisy-Daëne. The vineyard at Béguey, on a gravel and clay slope overlooking the Gironde in the Entre-Deux-Mers, is planted with half red and half white grapes. No herbicides are used here, and all of the grapes are handpicked. When they moved in the vineyard was not old but was badly planted so Denis began to replant 4 hectares a year from1988. Gradually they have also replaced the cabernet and will have 10% petit verdot (first used in 2008) with 90% merlot, because petit verdot succeeds, if well-pruned, on the land at the bottom of the slope where the other grapes do not. The vineyard is on a south-facing slope overlooking the Garonne. Merlot ripens early here, as early as in Pomerol in fact.Reynon’s red wine – a blend of 82% merlot with 13% cabernet sauvignon (a figure that is gradually decreasing) and 4% petit verdot – has ripe black-fruit aromas and fresh balance, and can age for three to eight years. The white wine, with grapefruit aroma and good length, ages equally well, and is a blend of 89% sauvignon with 11% semillon. Both wines are also aged in oak, a third of which is new, which gives a rounder texture. Château Cantegril in Barsac has been the home of The Society’s Exhibition Sauternes since 2001 (it is worth remembering that all Barsac can be Sauternes, but only Barsac can be Barsac) and this lusciously sweet wine is a blend of 64% semillon, 34% sauvignon blanc and 1% muscadelle, which is aged in 25% new oak and keeps beautifully for three to ten years. Cantegril is now also the home of Fabrice Dubourdieu, who got married in 2012. In 2013 his wife gave birth to their first child – a new generation to continue and further the family’s winemaking reputation for generations to come.
Certainly the most famous sweet wine of France and probably the World, the luscious, complex wines of Sauternes owe their existence to a mould. The fungus in question is called botrytis cinerea, known to the French by the more attractive name of pourriture noble and to many others as noble rot. 25 miles south of the city of Bordeaux the confluence of the Garonne and its tributary the Ciron, in conjunction with the hilly geography of the area and sunny autumn weather, creates a misty early morning microclimate that is perfect for botrytis to begin and flourish. As the day warms up and the mist clears the botrytis is stabilised and remains in its benign form. Should damp, humid or rainy weather strike the vineyards all will be lost as botrytis transforms itself into the more pernicious grey rot, in which case no sauternes can be made. These unfortunate circumstances happen about twice a decade and add the already challenging economic environment for all but the wealthiest producers. Great pine forests to the west offer some protection from bad weather but making sauternes is a labour of love, perhaps even a labour of passion.Semillon is the principal grape, useful because its thin skin is pierced easily by the botrytis to allow it to feed on the moisture inside, concentrating the grape sugars and glycerol, and heightening the acidity. The second grape is sauvignon blanc which makes up about 25% of plantings, while the fragrant muscadelle brings up the rear. Vines are carefully pruned and tended in order to encourage development of the fungus. Once the botrytis appears it affects bunches unevenly, both in terms of the individual grapes within the bunch and across the vineyard. It is necessary for pickers to make several passes, up to ten on the best properties, to pick even single grapes as they are affected, and each vine yields only enough juice for a single glass of wine. Sometimes the harvest can take two months to complete. Is it any wonder that the best Sauternes is relatively expensive?Fermentation takes place in oak barrels and can be slow because the yeasts occasionally find the sticky, sugary juice almost overwhelming, with an ever present danger of the fermentation stopping before the desired outcome is achieved. The finished wine spends some time in barrel, during which time some evaporation is allowed, before bottling.The best terroirs are considered to be on the higher ground furthest from the Garonne and above the Ciron, where the legendary Château d’Yquem sits. Soils in the appellation are a mixture of gravel, clay and limestone, and limestone, over the communes of Sauternes, Barsac, Bommes, Fargues and Preignac. Where the soils do not offer excellent drainage systems for it have been put in place.Sauternes, and by extension Barsac, were the only wines outside of the Médoc and Château Haut-Brion to be included in the famous 1855 Classification, with Château d’Yquem preminent.PREMIER CRU SUPÉRIEURChâteau d’YQUEM - SauternesPREMIERS CRUSChâteau LA TOUR BLANCHE - Sauternes. Château LAFAURIE-PEYRAGUEY - Sauternes. Clos HAUT-PEYRAGUEY – Sauternes. Château de RAYNE VIGNEAU - Sauternes. Château SUDUIRAUT – Sauternes. Château COUTET - Barsac. Château CLIMENS – Barsac. Château GUIRAUD - Sauternes. Château RIEUSSEC - Sauternes. Château RABAUD-PROMIS - Sauternes. Château SIGALAS RABAUD - SauternesSECONDS CRUSChâteau de MYRAT - Barsac. Château DOISY DAËNE - Barsac. Château DOISY-DUBROCA - Barsac. Château DOISY-VÉDRINES - Barsac. Château d’ARCHE - Sauternes. Château FILHOT - Sauternes. Château BROUSTET - Barsac. Château NAIRAC - Barsac. Château CAILLOU – Barsac. Château SUAU - Barsac. Château de MALLE – Sauternes. Château ROMER du HAYOT - Sauternes. Château ROMER – Sauternes. Château LAMOTHE - Sauternes. Château LAMOTHE-GUIGNARD - SauternesLess exalted sweet wines are made across Bordeaux. Much of it is produced, unlike wines affected by botrytis, by stopping fermentation through the use of sulphur dioxide, chilling the fermenting must and sterile filtration. These wines are often labelled moelleux and they can be very mediocre. Such wines can be labelled as Bordeaux Supérieur, Graves Supérieur, Côtes de Bordeaux-Saint-Macaire, Côtes de Bordeaux-Sainte-Foy and Premier Côtes de Bordeaux. Some appellations where botrytis wines are made and which can rival good sauternes are Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Cadillac, Cérons and Loupiac. For this latter group, depressed prices in comparison with the wines of Sauternes and Barsac, have led some producers to abandon the expensive botrytis method and to make sweet wines more cheaply by following the methods of the less exalted practitioners mentioned above. Those prepared to invest the time, effort and money into making use of their terroir and the conditions it offers can make characterful, botrytis affected wines.
Sauternes and Barsac enjoyed another very fine vintage, and almost as importantly, yields were more generous than for many years, which is great news for the financially embattled sweet wine producers.
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The Sunday Times 5th Apr 2020
"A decadent, unctuous sauternes, exquisitely balanced with just enough acidity. Amazing chilled and paired with a spoonful of Roquefort. - Will Lyons"
Lynn News 22nd Oct 2019
"This is glorious.
Rich and ripe with notes of barley sugar, pineapple, honey and dried pears, it
has a lift of citrus acidity that stops it from being cloying and is just
wonderful with blue cheeses or simple fruit puds. - Giles Luckett"
"In addition to strong reds, I like sweet white Sherry. This is nothing like sherry but I was very very pleased."
Mr Ronald Chalmers (31-Dec-2018)
Surrey Advertiser (13th Feb 2015)
"A blend of 65% Semillon, 34% Sauvignon Blanc and 1%
Muscadelle with a quarter of the wine having been aged in new oak barrels (225
litre barriques, about 300 bottles). I recommend that you crack open a bottle
with the [roast fruit] samosas [with cardamom scented vanilla ice cream] but if
you want to leave a couple of bottles in your cellar you can as this golden
wine has the depth of flavour and balance (that’s the important balance of
fruit, acidity and alcohol) to age beautifully for up to five years. - John Downes"
Belfast Newsletter (7th Feb 2015)
and delightfully complex. - Raymond Gleugh"
Belfast Sunday Life (28th Dec 2014)
"This lovely bottle of light golden liquid is rich and
delicious. It has glorious aromas of sweet fruit. - Paula Gracey"
Birmingham Mail (20th Dec 2014)
"A shoo-in with salty
cheeses, or a favourite dessert. There's nose-dip aromas of dried honey and
pithy orange zest; yes, it's sweet to taste but the dryness of fruit peel
persists to counterbalance. - Jane Clare"
The Press Association (13th Dec 2014)
"A blend of citrus and
exotic fruits on the nose, this light, silky sauternes has good minerality and
honeyed guava and passion fruit notes. Perfect to accompany traditional
Christmas. - Sam Wylie Harris"
"Love this wine. Great value for taste delivered."
Mr Jamie Anderson (13-Sep-2014)
"On Christmas day this gorgeous wine accompanied my daughter's home made Christmas pudding and my partner's brandy sauce (made with just a tad too much Remy Martin perhaps!). This was about as near to heaven as I'll ever get.
Mr John Garner (30-Dec-2013)
House & Garden (1st Nov 2013)
"Honeyed, sweet …
opulent … (to match Caroline Barty's caramelised biscuit custard with roasted
pears) - Joanna Simon"
"This Sauternes has excellent balance between the luscious sweetness and fruit so that it goes very well with a plum crumble. Excellent value for money."
Mr David Wallace (15-Apr-2012)
"This was perfect after Christmas dinner - syrupy, dense tropical fruit flavors. Extremely sweet, but not cloying. Strongly recommended."
Mr Matthew Robison (18-Jan-2012)
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