Bordeaux wines tasting notes :  1997 Sauternes, appellation Sauternes - Barsac

1997 Sauternes Barsac: horizontal tasting

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> Haut-Bergeron non classified

This wine is located next to d'Yquem (one couldn't dream a smarter neighbour!). The wine is not classified, but has dramatically improved in quality during the last decade. 
The colour is surprisingly dark for such a young wine (to drink a four years old Sauternes can almost be considered infanticid!). Nice aromatic nose with exotic scents of lychee, floral, not very long. Nice and fat in mouth, lacks a bit of acidity. A bit too ripe. Limited ageing potential in our view. Drink 2005 - 2010. 84/100

> SUDUIRAUT - 1er Grand Cru Classe  

haut bergeron, suduiraut, rayne vigneau
Light gold colour - Honey, caramel, almonds, quince. Quite fat, fresh butter, tea. A nice and powerful wine but lacks a bit of "finesse". 87/100


> GUIRAUD - 1er Grand Cru Classe

Very nice golden appearance, powerful nose of crystallized fruit and mango. Impressive long finish, very rich. A more massive than elegant type of wine - should do very well with a "foie gras au torchon" course. A perfect example for introducing Sauternes to beginners. 85 / 100

> RAYNE-VIGNEAU - 1er Grand Cru Classe

Light gold colour. Complex and delicate nose of citrus fruit (orange zests, apricots, almonds, lychees, roasted bread). This beautiful Rayne-Vigneau is extremely delicate and elegant, not very long but very enjoyable. Balanced body, fresh with enough acidity to age for a long time. Botrytis could be a bit more present. I personally enjoyed it very much and most of the participants scored this wine very well too! 90/100


guiraud, tour blanche, nairac

> LA TOUR-BLANCHE - 1er Grand Cru Classe

The French State is the owner of this château. Very nice nose dominated by banana, honey, and fresh mint, pretty voluptuous. Very well made wine with a precise mouth, very wide and impressive, rich (butter - roasted almonds). A first class wine for a very small price - I've seen it reently offered at 29 Swiss Francs / equivalent to17 US$. A real bargain! 91/100


> NAIRAC - 2eme Grand Cru Classe

Pretty dark gold colour. A lot of botrytis, crystallized fruits, oranges. Very fresh, well balanced body and a pretty long wine. A very nice bottle to enjoy all through the next decade 2005 - 2015. 90/100

> COUTET - 1er Grand Cru Classe

Pale yellow-greenish colour. Citrus nose, fresh cut grass, buttery, and almond. A bit unpleasant in mouth with a kind of wax polish taste (Sauvignon?) - dry finish (when compared to the other Sauternes wines). Some doubts on the winemaking? 82/100

> DOISY-DAENE - 2eme Cru Classe

Paler than Nairac. The nose is a bit closed but reveals discreet banana, pears, honey and caramel aromas. In mouth, this wine is powerful, but has a lot of finesse too. Long and complex wine, slightly salted (iodized) on the tongue. A very enjoyable and classical Sauternes wine. 89/100

climens, coutet, doisy daene



> CLIMENS - 1er Grand Cru Classe

Pale gold colour. Weird nose: almonds, caramel, but slightly moisten too. The wine has an unpleasant structure, dry, a bit sour and "dirty". Definitely a technical problem with this bottle (cork?). To be revisited.


1er Grand Cru Classe

Deep gold. Very open nose with flavours of citrus, crystallized fruit, quince jam. Lots of fruits - pears, mirabelle plums, remarkable balance and freshness, long and powerful. Ends on a floral note (roses). A real beauty! 95/100

 rieussec, lafaurie peyraguey

> RIEUSSEC - 1er Grand Cru Classe

Beautiful gold. Very fruity nose: pears, apricots, mangoes, buttery and velvety impressions. Beautifully balanced structure, fat and thick substance. Excellent persistence. A wonderful and accomplished wine. 94/100


botritysIn conclusion, LAFAURIE-PEYRAGUEY was the winner of the day, and RIEUSSEC finished extremely close. But CLIMENS should not be forgotten. I've tasted it in another occasion and trust me, it's a gorgeous wine! Most of the participants noted a clear qualitative difference between the best two wines and the others. There was some wine left in the bottles and many participants returned to taste again some of the first series wines. LA TOUR-BLANCHE, RAYNE-VIGNEAU or DOISY-DAENE are very good, but clearly a step behind the first two. They just don't quite have the same magic, the same perfect balance and power. But they are pretty well worth purchasing and excellent values ! NAIRAC too was very much appreciated by many participants. Maybe the most "mature" wine of the tasting at this stage.

COUTET and to a lesser extent, SUDUIRAUT were deceptions. GUIRAUD isn't a genius wine but it's finally a very honest and straightforward average Cru.

That’s all for now. I'll come back later with the other wines (older Sauternes) tasted during the meal following this event !

Cheers, Alain Bringolf

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I've participated to a private tasting of the 1997 vintage Sauternes with a dozen of friends and winelovers. The idea around this event was to review these very young wines and try to determine which ones are worth investing in. Most of them can still easily be found today in retailer shops. The 1997 vintage is considered to be the best year for Sauternes wines since the 3 "glorious years" of 1988, 1989 and 1990, certainly the only great year of the nineties for Sauternes (1995 and 1996 are very good but don't quite match the richness of the 1997). The ratings mentioned hereafter are the average scores given by the participants.

All wines came from excellent personal cellars and were served at a temperature of 12 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). In my view, this is the best possible temperature to appreciate a Sauternes wine at its finest. Some people like to drink it cooler, but I think you can't catch all the subtle flavours if the wine is that cold. Of course, the whole session was conducted on a blind tasting mode to avoid any subjectivity. It should be noted that apart from RABAUD-PROMIS and SIGALAS-RABAUD, all the 1er Grand Cru classes of Sauternes were represented.




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