Sauternes second wines: Why they’re worth a look

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Accessible and affordable, second wines offer the chance for a wider audience to experience the unique sweet character of Sauternes. James Lawther MW explores how these second wines are made and recommends bottles to try...

Credit: Decanter
Credit: Decanter

The first thing I was offered at La Chapelle, the recently opened restaurant at Château Guiraud in Sauternes, was a tasting glass of the estate’s second wine, Petit Guiraud. It arrived with a tiny, savoury amuse-bouche, a delicious concoction made with Bayonne ham.

This was all part of the new charm offensive that Sauternes is currently laying on for visitors to freshen the traditional image of this sweet wine appellation. Forget the age-old ‘pudding wine’ concept and think aperitif, appetiser, wine by the glass, wine bar, relaxed atmosphere and immediate gratification via the more accessible second labels. Sauternes has long been accused of being dusty and outmoded, but there’s a shake-up going on.Wine tourism and gastronomy are being developed – the Guiraud brasserie and a Relais & Châteaux hotel with fine dining at fellow first growth Château Lafaurie- Peyraguey being two examples.

Translated by ICY

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