Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Notes on terroir - Sauternes

Rising from a spring in the Gascony forest, the Ciron flows north east to join the Garonne a kilometer up river from Barsac in the Sauternais region of Graves. And though it reaches little more than a stream in size its impact upon wine making is great. In stark contrast to this small, fast flowing, cold body of water, the Garrone is a lumbering, sluggish and relatively warm beast that has travelled from the Spanish Pyrenees. Where the two meet, mist is common through the night, the warm late summer sun burning it off in the morning. The humid conditions are conducive to the formation and proliferation of fungal rot whilst the hot and dry daytime provides excellent grape ripening. The result is a slow raisening of the fruit, reducing the water content and thus concentrating the sugars whilst retaining acidity important for flavour balance.

The sweet dessert wines of the Sauternes are true classics and I recommend a suspension of prejudice whilst you sample them, late at night, with a bit of bread and some (Quorn) Fois Gras.

Don't worry, I'm only here for a week. We'll be back on the beer by Hallowe'en.

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