Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Magical Mystery Tour of Sauternes

There are sweet wines (tokaji, jurancon, monbazillac, vouvray, banyuls, etc...) and then there is sauternes, that golden elixir  from the Graves region of Bordeaux that boasts both power, flavor and finesse.  Made from a blend of semillion and Sauvignon blanc grapes, this late harvest magic is produced once the grapes have experienced the "noble rot" and shriveled on the vine. Once the grapes are carefully picked,they are then evaluated, pressed, processed, and aged to perfection.  

Our wine club is so devoted to Sauternes that it is no wonder our monthly wine dinners usually end with a bottle during the cheese and dessert courses (and it is equally welcome with foie gras).   Some of the members have many Sauternes in their wine cellars, and no one has a cave with greater breadth and depth than our doyen Edouard.  It was thanks to him that we were able to visit 3 extraordinary sauterne producers in the Barsac-Fargues-Sauterne region:  Chateau de Fargues, Chateau La Clotte-Cazalis, and the legendary Chateau Yquem.  

At Chateau de Fargues we had the good fortune, thanks to Edouard, to have as our guide the charming and eloquent owner, Alexander de Lur-Saluces.  Late of Chateau Yquem, he brings the same passion and attention to quality that he was known for at his previous property.


We tried a delicious 2008 Sauternes that tasted of honey, citrus, and spice.

Our next visit was to the family-run La Clotte-Cazalis in Barsac where we had both a tasting and lunch.  The tasting room was dominated by a golden cow that the owner purchased at auction...he called it his diva and the color reminded him of his wine.  We tasted a dry white and two Sauternes from the 2005 and 2009 vintages.  The later was far the superior wine with notes of peach, apricot, and citrus.

They also produce a lovely red which accompanied our copious lunch at the chateau.

Was the best saved for last?  It would be hard not to be impressed by the chateau, the vines, and the almost hushed reverence throughout the Chateau Yquem property.  Sandrine gave us a knowledgable and comprehensive tour before we tasted the 2012 Y dry white and the 2011 Sauternes, a stunner tasting of mango. pineapple and even coconut.

An almost tropical 

It was an extraordinary day of tasting at these three chateaus and we found pleasures at each.  
But regarding price, is a Yquem  at 400 dollars 2 to 3 times better than Fargues or 15 times better than La Clotte?   Hard to say but I was perfectly happy with my purchase of the relatively inexpensive of La Clotte-Cazalis.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A new Pastis?

Nothing says "summer" in France more than a glass of anise-flavored pastis.  Can you pick out the pastis in the picture?

Actually they both are.  On the left is the traditional variety but on the right is the new rose by 51.  

I thought it was a gimmick but after adding  water and a little and taking a few sips, I'm a convert.  

It's a little less alcoholic  but also fruitier with a touch of sweetness. I now have my new summer drink. (Thank you, Rene of the Cafe du Commerce, who introduced me to it.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Art Exhibition

Just as nature begins to wake up with the spring, so does the cultural life of Lauzerte.  The recently renovated and evolving Espace Point de Vue opened its doors last Saturday evening to a trio of artists from the village:  Ros Marchant (graveur), Kiff Collister (photographer), and Daniel Pezeril (sculptor).  The works of each artist contrasted and complemented those of the others so that the evening provided something for everyone.

The opening included artist (s)...

a reception...

...and lots of friends and art lovers.