A blend of 85% Semillon, 11% Sauvignon and 4% Muscadelle. The first wine represents 25% of the whole crop. Harvest finished by the 4th October, earlier than many other Sauternes, but this is probably one of the ripest and most explosive wines in the vintage. The residual sugar is 160g/l, well above the region’s average for the year, but there is a lot more to this than just sugar. Intense, multi-layered, powerful but very compact, a true vin de garde, deeply concentrated notes of wild honey, nectarine, peach, apricot and salts, very dense but not heavy or cloying, a long bright and very clear fruit finish. Very impressive.
Chateau Lafite’s Sauternes property is producing wonderful wine. It is often one of the best wines when tasted en primeur, but the way the wine is distributed is not helping the brand’s profile.
Three grape varieties are planted: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. Sémillon is the principal grape, because it is especially susceptible to noble rot, Sauvignon is used for its naturally high acidity, whilst tiny proportions of the capricious Muscadelle are used for aromatic qualities. Sweet wine has been made here at least since the late 18th century. Its position is unique, close to two rivers, the broad Garonne and its small tributary, the Ciron. In autumn, the cool Ciron waters flow into the warmer tidal Garonne, evening mists develop that envelop the vineyards until late morning the following day, after the sun has burnt the mist away all that is left is moisture on trhe grapes that encourages noble rot or Botrytis cinerea. This fungus attacks grapes, causing them to shrivel, concentrating flavour sugars and acids. The wines were classified in 1855, the most prominent of which is Château Yquem, whose yields even in a vintage where noble rot is prominent, reach no more than 10 hl/ha.