Mary-Therese Blair finds a French wine topping the sweet stakes .
When it comes to sweet wines it’s widely agreed that sauternes from the subregion of the same name in Bordeaux represents the global gold standard. No surprise then that the inclusion of international wines in this category saw a sauternes storm to the top. It truly was a cut above the rest and the decision to reward it with the top spot was unanimous. While the sweet wines line up included some good local examples, the judges felt that they had to search that bit harder for the great examples from New Zealand rather than the wines making themselves known. Perhaps it’s the Kiwi personality – not to be too showy or proud – coming through in our sweet wines? That said, some outstanding local examples did reveal themselves to our panel. Better yet, all of the top three sweet wines are ‘Best Buy’ wines, which makes them perfect additions to your Christmas shopping list.
Sauterness comes from Sauternes, Bordeaux and is made with a combination of sauvignon, sémillon and muscadelle grapes that have been infected with botrytis cinerea aka botrytis or noble rot. Botrytis is a beneficial fungus which dehydrates the grape causing it to raisin, leaving small, intensely sweet berries which result in a rich and luscious wine.
This 2012 Castelnau de Suduiraut sauternes is the second tier wine from Château Suduiraut, an estate planted in the 18th century. The estate was classified as Premier Cru during the Bordeaux wine official classification of 1885.
The location of Château Suduiraut is important. It’s proximity to both the Ciron and Garonne rivers means that the area has cool nights and morning mists in autumn, followed by long warm sunny days providing the perfect conditions for noble rot to thrive.
The grapes are handpicked, with singular berries that have achieved the correct stage of over-ripeness, rather than whole bunches picked at a time. This means harvesting of the grapes is a laborious task that is staggered over five different picks between September and November.
The end result of all that hard work is definitely one to be celebrated and the blend changes from vintage to vintage. This 2012 vintage is 95% sémillon and 5% sauvignon blanc with aromas of candied yellow fruit, limes, quince, frangipani and hints of spice on its layered and generous nose. The rich and luscious palate boasts caramel and butterscotch with just a hint of minerality against it’s incredible acid spine. Delicious and beguiling. (A)
Vibrant honeyed citrus blossom, limes and a hint of apricot present on …2
While still fresh, this wine also has wonderful characteristics from its development …3