Chateau Clos Haut Peyraguey Sauternes (375ML half-bottle) 2016
#22 Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines of 2019
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 92-94 Points
Dominated by Sémillon, this rich, luscious wine has layers of ripe fruit and intense concentration. Wood aging has sustained the richness of the wine and not overshadowed the ripe honey, candied peel and hints of almonds. The wine will age for many years. Drink from 2025.
The vineyard of Clos Haut-Peyraguey, nestled at the highest point of the plateau of Bommes in Sauternes region is at the heart of the Premiers Crus Classés in 1855. It sits opposite to the Chateau d'Yquem, and its immediate neighbors are called Rayne-Vigneau or Chateau Guiraud. This ancient barony has survived the centuries since its first harvest in 1618, enjoying a unique terroir and climatic conditions combined with an ancestral know-how enabling it to make its grapes play a symphony of excellence giving a unique and prestigious golden wine : the Sauternes of Clos Haut-Peyraguey. When classified in 1855, the estate was called Chateau Peyraguey. In 1879 the estate is split in two. Part is called Lafaurie-Peyraguey in tribute to Mr. Lafaurie (former owner) who had given him fame. The highest land at the top of the Bommes hill will be named Clos Haut-Peyraguey.
It is in 2012 that Bernard Magrez acquires the Clos Haut-Peyraguey to the Pauly family who operated the property since 1914. In order to perpetuate the excellence of this Premier Grand Cru of Sauternes but also to give it an international influence, Bernard Magrez takes care to provide meticulous care to the vineyard as part of tradition but also innovation, to produce a unique wine: Clos haut-Peyraguey, the Sauternes des Inités.
Sweet and unctuous but delightfully charming, the finest Sauternes typically express flavors of exotic dried tropical fruit, candied apricot, dried citrus peel, honey or ginger and a zesty beam of acidity.
Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle are the grapes of Sauternes. But Sémillon's susceptibility to the requisite noble rot makes it the main variety and contributor to what makes Sauternes so unique. As a result, most Sauternes estates are planted to about 80% Sémillon. Sauvignon is prized for its balancing acidity and Muscadelle adds aromatic complexity to the blend with Sémillon.
Botrytis cinerea or “noble rot” is a fungus that grows on grapes only in specific conditions and its onset is crucial to the development of the most stunning of sweet wines.
In the fall, evening mists develop along the Garonne River, and settle into the small Sauternes district, creeping into the vineyards and sitting low until late morning. The next day, the sun has a chance to burn the moisture away, drying the grapes and concentrating their sugars and phenolic qualities. What distinguishes a fine Sauternes from a normal one is the producer’s willingness to wait and tend to the delicate botrytis-infected grapes through the end of the season.
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked so late that the sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.