When we first visited Sauternes looking for a partner we really did not think we would find one that that was not exporting already to the UK or attached to the normal Bordeaux dealers. For that reason we started with the co-operative wine house on the square. They make an interesting wine that is a blend of all the local producers who pay their tax contribution in kind with their liquor. If you want to try some Château D’Yquem, you will find some in their wine. However, we struck lucky with the Despujols family whose vines and château are literally next to the village of Sauternes itself. In addition to making wine they also own and run the shop in the centre of the village.
Very much a hands on family, meeting with Guy is difficult as he is almost always in the fields tending the vines. During our visit he was busy harvesting the grapes for the 2015 vintage which promises to be good.
Xavier, who alongside his father Guy, helps run the estate, was both helpful and informative about production and producers and has guided us right through to ensuring we price the wine properly in the UK. Sauternes is an acquired taste but is not limited to being a dessert wine. It is equally at home with foie gras and other terrines and Pâtés and we like it simply as an aperitif before dinner. Actually, it’s a good excuse to open a bottle knowing there will be enough left to sample for the next few days!
While vintage is always a good indicator, in Sauternes a less good year will simply mean a smaller output of the best grapes so traditionally “poor” years can still produce excellent Sauternes. Sometime they even turn out as good or better than the good years! The Despujols’ select their grapes every year and the very best make their “Château Lamothe Sauternes” while the remainder is used to make their “Les Tourelles de Lamothe”. I like both which is why they are available in the shop. If you have not tried a sweet wine, Sauternes is a good place to start. Add one or two to a case and see how you enjoy it. I hope you will not be disappointed.