Chateau Gravas Sauternes (375ML half-bottle) 2001
Truly great vintages in Sauternes occur fewer than three out of every ten years. As Monsieur Focke discovered, the ideal conditions for such a vintage are perfectly ripe grapes, dense fogs, ample humidity, and proper development of "noble rot" (Botrytis cinerea). Only under these circumstances can one achieve a superb "vin liquoreux" or unctuous dessert wine. The finest of these wines can easily age 20 50 years depending upon residual sugar, concentration, acidity, and the results of barrel aging.
2001 has proven to be an ideal vintage for Château Gravas. This property has 12 hectares (30 acres) used for production of Sauternes. It is superbly sited in the Barsac commune between Château Coutet and the Doisy estates. Château Gravas has been owned by the Bernard family for five generations and is currently managed by Michel and Patrick Bernard. In a good year their Sauternes production is 100 barrels (2,500 cases). The wine is 100% Semillon, 100% botrytis infected, and aged in both French and American oak. 2001 Château Gravas represents an incredible value for Sauternes.
Climens, Coutet and Chateau Doisy-Daëne; The Gravas enjoys an exceptional terroir. High Barsac characteristic with cracked limestone. This allows a deep root penetration and excellent supply of the plant, a guarantee of quality for wine.
Welcoming visitors is an ancient tradition in Gravas. Pierre Bernard, father of the current owner, opens the doors of the Castle to wine lovers and tourists.
Today this home vocation has added the organization of cultural festivals and events: conferences, concerts, theme exhibitions and any form of expression combining art and wine. It is a warm and friendly atmosphere that the owners share their passion for wine. After an initiatory journey through the vineyards, a tasting tour is offered within the Castle. Finally, you will discover the latest attractions of the property, such as Decanter Chateau Gravas, like a perfume bottle.
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.