Sauternes, Further Reading

The ‘Picturesque Wine Villages of Bordeauxcollection, available including for exhibition.

This Sauternes Series as its name implies introduces via the medium of painting and through the blue, colour sensitive eyes and discerning, emotional responses of the artist Gordon Frickers.

Gordon Frickers, artist
Gordon Frickers, artist

When you have tasted a 20 or 30 year old Sauternes, you have tried a truly great white wine, the Liquid Gold of Bordeaux.

Sauternes gives its name to a white or rather amber wine that is justifiably famous all over the world.

Recognised by Imperial Classification 1855 ‘Sauternes’ are the only white wines in the classification.

Among the many who have recognised this are Thomas Jefferson who was an avid connoisseur and George Washington who after tasting a sample of Château d’Yquem promptly placed an order for 30 dozen bottles.

These are the most distinguished of the greatest white wines of the world, the genius of a modest terrain and village of some 650 souls, Sauternes.

Many attempts have been made to develop new classification without success, only one more chateaux has been added, the  listing is still valid today.

By the decree of September 30th 1936 Appellation d’Origine Controlee 5 communes can use the prestigious ‘Sauternes’ name: Sauternes, Barsac, Fargues de Langon, Bommes & Preignac.

This complex wine made from 3 grape varieties has a deep but subtle fragrance & a flavour lingering and haunting long after tasting.

Young Sauternes are full of vitality, full bodied with fruity flavours of almond, peach, vanilla & apricot with hints of acacia & lilac.

Given time the wine acquires further body and gradually changes to a deep amber colour.

Mostly served at 40 to 45 degrees in classic fashion as a starter for example with foie gras or dessert such as a strong Rochefort or Cheddar cheese.

Sauternes can also be a real delight with fish, white meats, foul and fruit.

The grapes are never harvested, which means naturally gathered by hand, picked often one by one, selective harvesting in several sweeps, each yield is very low. Most vines produce about 1 bottle of wine, Sauternes produce 1 glass.

No other wine is as sensitive to the hazards of climate as this rarest of all golden wine.

This system can only exist in our times because Sauternes simply must work in harmony with nature to maintain a superior quality which remains as high today as it was in the 17th century when Dutch traders developed the white wines of Graves.

The autumnal Morning Mists are essential to the wines of Sauternes, more important than in any other vineyards anywhere.

They arise from the Garonne  River and the cooler spring water of its tributary, the Ciron.

They contribute the quality.

In the autumn, when the climate is warm and dry, the different ‘airs’ from the two rivers gently flood the warm pre dawn landscape to produce mist that descends upon the vineyards.

This promotes the development of Botrytis cinerea a microscopic fungus, a magic mould, a rot, pourriture noble (noble rot).

By mid day the warm sun dries the air protecting the grapes from less favorable fungus.

It improves the grape quality by a concentration of sugars.

Each mist is quickly burnt off the landscape by the new day’s sunshine but the influence is critical to the complexity, character, aromas and notably the flavour.

In ‘bad’ years Sauternes there may be little or no Sauternes wine, producers will resort to making dry white wines under the generic  Bordeaux AOC.

Sauternes is both a village and center to a commune, the villages under its jurisdiction thus the wines under it’s jurisdiction are surprisingly varied. Another reason to sample a few?


Sauternes and its commune of villages in the Graves district of Bordeaux, France is 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Bordeaux city.

Sauternes is  ancient with pre Roman roots (Aquitania Province).

If your eyes closed for one long deep breath you might miss this village of some 650 souls including the 2 restaurants, a cafe, the bakery, the tourist information and the foremost tourist attraction la Maison de Sauternes .

At the “Maison des Sauternes” many young Sauternes can be freely sampled so it’s a very good starting place for a guided understanding of these the unforgettable wines and a bonus, your favourites can be purchased.

The roads are narrow, the vineyards modest, most are family businesses.

Only renowned ‘Yquem’ with its chateau is a larger size.

There is a ‘wine trail’, discreet signposts that lead the visitor effortlessly through the principal scenic delights of the district, vineyards, forests, steams, picnic areas, the ancient ‘fort Debudos’ and of course, the most interesting of the chateaux.

For more information try l’Office de Tourisme, Sauternes.

If you stop there is much to see sample and explore.


Useful addresses:

Office de Tourisme de Sauternes, Rue Principale, 33210 Sauternes

Maison du SAUTERNES Adresse : 14 Place de la Mairie,  33210 SAUTERNES. Tél :
E-mail :
Site :

Town hall,  Place de la Mairie
33210 Sauternes. Tél:  Fax :

La Mairie, Sauternes, 18.06.2003

Gordon Frickers © 26,03,16, updated 27.08.2016

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