Not a classified growth but widely regarded as a contender for this honour. Soft golden colour and full of opulent acacia honeyed aromas. On the palate this wine balances the amazing richness and sweetness of the vintage with an appealing freshness. A forward drinking style producing a deliciously approachable sauternes.
Bordeaux is France's largest quality wine region, indeed producing almost as much wine as Australia. Its westerly position ensures a mild maritime climate, a long growing season and mild summers; rains in the autumn are the primary threat to the harvest, dampening expectations in around one year in three. Red wine predominates - indeed many white wine vines are being uprooted today - with Merlot the dominant variety. The region is dissected by the Gironde estuary, with on the Left Bank the district appellations of the Médoc and the Graves and on the Right Bank, those of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol amongst others. Sauternes is made in the south of the region. The notable red and sweet wines were classified in 1855 according to their then status. At that time not a single Pomerol or Saint-Emilion was deemed worthy despite their historic traditions, and only a single Graves wine. In the last few decades first Saint-Emilion and then Pomerol have become intensely fashionable, their usually small production guaranteeing a premium for scarcity.
2003 - Bordeaux
The exceptional summer conditions of 2003 resulted in some superb wines, though not all have ideal balance of acidity and alcohol. Where access to water was unimpeded, delicious dry whites have been made, fulsome with bright fruit characters. Moderate acidity levels may impact on keeping potential, so that lesser wines are to be enjoyed with immediate effect. The heat permitted the production of many truly luscious dessert wines too, with some, but not all, producers declaring their best wines on record. The acidity balance is key to longevity and early impressions are of an intense vintage but one for the medium term.
Best known for its important role in the dry and sweet wines of Bordeaux, where it provides weight and lusciousness commonly in partnership with the more scented Sauvignon Blanc. Semillon has a fleshy palate mid-palate reminiscent of Chardonnay, but offering lime characters in place of lemon, and has a noticeably dry finish. Far from well-travelled, it crops up in Provençal whites and occasionally in Italy. Semillon has a cult following in Australia, notably in the Hunter Valley, where it has proved worthy of long ageing. After ten years the dry wine develops a waxy, honeyed character, and can give the impression of oak nuances despite never seeing the inside of a barrel.
A variety with ancestral links to the Loire valley in France and now planted widely around the world. In France it is best known for Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, though it is widely used in dry white bordeaux and as a component in sauternes. Sauvignon Blanc has a crisp, grapey countenance and a hallmark fragrance of herbs and green garden fruits. It is rarely exposed to new oak ageing. The variety developed a cult following after its success in New Zealand in the 1990s where growers coaxed richness and pungency from the variety. It is an important variety in both South Africa and Chile, and can be found in California, Austria and elsewhere.
A grape historically associated with the white wines of Bordeaux, used in minor proportion for its floral aromatic character. It is susceptible to botrytis (noble rot) and is therefore most commonly employed by makers of Sauternes and other sweet wines.