August 2015, Score: 89
Tasted at the Doisy-Védrines vertical at the château, the 1996 Château Doisy-Védrines is very closed at first. Returning after 20 minutes, it becomes quite floral on the bouquet with ripe Satsumas, burnt honey and caramelized pear. There is satisfying rather than exemplary definition, not quite the focus of more recent vintages. It is very smooth and unctuous on the entry and perhaps lacks a little acidity. There is certainly a lot of botrytis, but it is missing precision on the apricot and orange liqueur-tinged finish. Drink 2015-2020
Château Doisy-Védrines is a 2éme Cru Classé property in Barsac, which has been owned by the Castéja family since 1946. There are 27 ha of vineyards planted with 80% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle. These grapes are picked in several “tries” and the yields are very low indeed, even by Sauternes standards. The château employs temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats for around a week before the must is transferred to 100% new oak barriques. The wine remains in barrique for 18-20 months.
Sauternes, Sweet Bordeaux
It is not an exaggeration to say that these are the greatest sweet wines in the world. They are the result of a serendipitous marriage of grape variety, location, annual weather conditions and human care and determination. The vineyards are located on the banks of the cool spring-fed Ciron river which, in autumn, flows into the warmer tidal Garonne and creates rolling evening mists which clothe the vines until the afternoon sun burns them off the following day. This cycle creates perfect conditions for the development of botrytis cinerea or noble rot, and the resulting grape juice is a super concentrated sweet, ambrosial nectar which makes the most heavenly and complex wines with extraordinary ability to age. In 1855 the wines were classified into first and second growths, with Ch d’Yquem rightly receivingits own super status of premier grand cru. Other stunning wines include Chx Sudiraut, Rieussec, Coutet and Climens. While seductively fragrant and sweet when young, if you can bear to wait, you will be amply rewarded with lusciously rich, exotically complex wine.