Sunday, January 29, 2012

UGC Bordeaux - 2009 Barsac & Sauternes

I don't want to suggest that Sauternes is in some trouble, but as with other sweet wines, it's near impossible to shed its label as something you only drink with dessert. And we all know how those go - almost no one actually opens another bottle after dinner, and no one even thinks of having it with dinner. Let's change that. In a great, cool vintage where the wines retain a good acidity, yet have ripeness and that all important botrytis character - a LOT like 2007 - the wines are absolutely stunning on the table. Few things in the world provide that deep satisfaction as old Sauternes, and yes, let's work together and change the perception of these wines. First by NEVER referring to them as dessert wines, omg.

The 2009 Sauternes share the ripeness of their dry white counterparts, but unfortunately, a few of them seem primary. All honey, big fruit, and lots of sweetness, but lacking in acidity, botrytis spice, and depth. Because the most interesting thing about a sweet wine should not be the fact that it's sweet. The best (most expensive) wines showed their pedigree though. You want to see lots of complexity, great acidity, great potential for decades of aging. These wines are expensive, and in my opinion, fall short of the 2007's as a whole.

Château Bastor-Lamontagne 2009: honey and apricots on the aroma, one of those aromas that cannot be mistaken for anything but a botrytis affected wine; ripe fruit, good acid on the palate

Château Climens 2009: pure, linear fruit already apparent; very pure and fine on the palate, sweet yet balanced

Château Coutet 2009: presented by the always articulate Aline Baly, Marketing & Communication Manager; honey and ripe fruit, viscous; round and sweet on the palate, long with good richness

Château de Fargues 2009: clearly the finest Sauternes of the tasting, and at $87 for a half bottle, it should be; botrytis spice on the nose, floral and ripe fruits; honey on the palate, long and a very spicy finish; fine and elegant, already complex with great depth

Château de Rayne-Vigneau 2009: ripe fruit, pure, mineral; compact on the palate, slightly bitter on the finish, interesting and needs time to come together

Château Doisy Daëne 2009: a wine I've been following for quite some time - I am SO excited for the 2007's to start coming around; pretty, almost floral in aroma, very refined fruit; really sweet, dense, rich, and long

Château Guiraud 2009: pure fruit, quite pretty, flowers and all that, the signature of Guiraud; ripe sweet fruit, textural and really viscous on the palate

Château La Tour Blanche 2009: blast of oak over the fruit, sweet palate, some spice on the finish; really needs time in the bottle

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2009: spicy oak on the nose, pure fruit, sweet but balanced palate

Château Suduiraut 2009: I have a half-bottle of the 1997 somewhere - we'll see soon enough how this ages after a decade in bottle; a bit reticent on the nose, but the fruit is very pure, concentrated and very sweet; a big, big wine

My tasting notes for the 2009 red wines next!



  1. I don't think you can compare the 2009s and 2007s as they are different beasts. When I tasted all of them alongside each other (at 2009 en primeur time) the 2009s blew the 2007s out of the water but it was obvious then that the 2007s were closed after bottling. I will retaste the 2009s alongside the 2011s this year and see whether or not I agree with your assessment but I suspect that they too will not be showing at their best just after bottling.

  2. PS David - I absolutely agree that 'dessert' should not be mentioned for a while! Let's talk about oysters, roast chicken, chinese and indian food, sausages, fresh fruit and just about anything else - Sauternes is the most versatile wine with food that I know!

  3. Thanks for your thoughts Steve. The majority of the 2009's at the tasting, for once, were not closed, a marked difference when comparing with the 2007's and 2008's, whites and reds. I know you focus on Sauternes - the wines were incredibly rich and sweet, showing little else at this point. Please let me know what you think after your tasting. This was the first time I had tasted the 2009's, so you'd have much more experience and points of reference to compare them against.

    And yes . . . we need to abolish the term 'dessert wine'!!