Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sauternes and Chateau d'Arche – Wed. 4/30/08

I fell in love with the little village of Sauternes. I don’t remember anyone mentioning how charming it is, with its tiny streets, lovely old church and stone buildings set in the middle of the Semillon and sauvignon blanc vineyards. My appointment at Chateau d'Arche was equally delightful, as I met with the winemaker and hospitality manager. Chateau d'Arche is a second growth, but has a solid reputation for producing good sweet white wines. They also have a bed & breakfast, and encouraged me to stay there next time I visit. I think I will – I was so charmed by this area.

We started the tour in the vineyards and I learned how they pruned the vines and selected the botrytised grapes in multiple passes through the vineyard – resulting in a yield of only 17 hectoliters per hectare. The winemaker mentioned that L’Yquem picked to only 9 hectoliters per hectare! Next we toured the winery and I learned how complicated it is to produce Sauternes, with volatile acidity being a big problem because it take so long for fermentation to finish. They also had 2 basket presses to handle different grape quality. We tasted through a 04, 03, 02, and they were all great, but I was easily able to detect the higher concentration and longer finish in the higher quality wines. They were kind enough to give me a small bottle to take home.

Afterwards, I drove around Sauternes and took photos, stopping at Chateau L’Yquem and wishing I would have had time to schedule a visit. Next time…

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