When tasting Sauternes, many are struck by the sweetness and concentration of this legendary white wine. They usually don’t think about the main culprit of golden yellow wine: a fungus called Botrytis cinerea.

As part of this week’s tasting competition, discover how the Sauternes region of France can go from moldy grapes to one of the most expensive dessert wines in the world.

What is a tasting challenge? With 34 wines from 12 countries you can improve your wine taste every week – the wine tasting challenge.

Week 17 – Halftime! Let’s celebrate with Zautern.

Although Sauternes is a sub-region of the Bordeaux region, it is about the same distance from the red blend we tasted the fifth week.

Why? For starters, it’s a dessert wine that tends to be much more concentrated than regular wine and is served in small portions so it can be drunk slowly.

Sauternes is actually a form of white Bordeaux, traditionally composed of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. However, this style of white Bordeaux is concentrated with a little help from the fungus Botrytis cinerea: better known as noble rot.

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Sauternes is incredibly expensive to produce, so we opted for a second bottle this week.

The second highest wine could probably be called 2. The experience is similar to that of their big siblings, but at a fraction of the price.

DONE FUNK: If you’re looking for Sauternes, don’t be surprised if most of them are 375 ML half bottles! Because the pressed juice of Noble’s rotten wine is so valuable, winemakers have found it much cheaper and more convenient for consumers to sell it in small cans. Moreover, drinking a 750 ml bottle of Sauternes is either the goal of someone who has a lot of friends, or very uninteresting.

2016 Château Guero Petit Guero Sauternes

Look at this: Dark yellow.

The smells: Honey, ginger, lemon, white peach, cinnamon and beeswax.

In the palace: Sweet and concentrated, with lively aromas of honey, lemon, dried apricot and dried pineapple. Warm and very alcoholic aftertaste.

Assorted food: This is the kind of sweet wine that should be paired with salty and funky cheeses. Think Stilton or blue cheese (after all, one good mushroom deserves another). Oh, and apple pie!

What we have learned about the South

The main players in this Sauternes were Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. While the Semillon makes the wine sweet and fuller, the Sauvignon Blanc adds an acidity that balances the sweetness well.

But if you make wine only from these grapes, you only get a white Bordeaux. Which, make no mistake, is a good problem to have. But the noble rot takes this dessert wine to a higher level.

This fungus attaches itself to the grapes and slowly draws moisture from the flesh of the berries, causing them to wilt. What remains is a field of seemingly useless rotten fruit.

But when you press the grapes, the concentrated juice comes out, leading to Sauternes.

And the mushroom itself even leaves its own taste, like beeswax or ginger! While it may seem a bit gross to the layman, without this mold you are missing out on something very delicious.

Last Impressions

If you want to treat yourself to something sweet at the end of a meal, why not a glass of dessert wine like Sauternes?

It is both delicious and stimulating. In fact, it proves that just because a wine is sweet doesn’t mean it can’t be taken seriously.

Does the sound of this delicious wine make your mouth water? Try Château Haute Bergeron Sauternes 2016 at Wine Access and take your dessert experience to the next level.

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