Jeroboams Education is a new series on our blog providing you with the lowdown on the most iconic wine producing regions of the world. Led by our super buying team, Peter Mitchell MW and Maggie MacPherson will introduce you to the key facts and a little history of all the regions you recognise but perhaps don’t know too well. To help really further your education, why not drink along?
Bordeaux is the largest fine wine district on Earth, on average making over 70 million cases of wine annually out of a French total of nearly 500 million cases. Between 85-90% of this is red wine, 5% is rosé, 1.5% is sweet and the remainder dry white. Whilst well over half of this wine is labelled as Bordeaux or Bordeaux Supérieur AC, the part that gets the attention of wine lovers and commentators the world over comes from the great communes of the Médoc, from Graves and Pessac-Léognan, from the Libournais communes of Pomerol and St.Émilion and for sweet wines, from Sauternes and Barsac.
The vineyard area has remained fairly stable at around 112,000 hectares (two thirds the area that the whole of Australia has under vine) for over a decade.
Bordeaux wine (with the exception of some dry whites) is a blend of grape varieties, with the dominant grape varying depending on local soil conditions and climate. In general, the wines of the Médoc (the left bank) are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, those of the Libournais (right bank) by Merlot and, to a lesser extent, Cabernet Franc.
Bordeaux’s vineyard history is different to other regions in that this has never been the domain of the peasant farmer. By the 17th century, vineyards here were already an investment and the owner was seldom the winemaker (or even present). The region was first planted by the Romans around St.-Émilion, but after the fall of the empire, viticulture seems to have largely ceased until the middle ages. Bordeaux was ruled by the English from 1152 until 1453 and with the importance of the port for international trade, the wines gained an international audience. After the English lost Aquitaine, trade suffered somewhat, but other merchants arrived, notably from Holland and Germany, which kept exports going.
At this time, Graves was the most important area, with Haut-Brion first planted in the 1530’s and within a hundred years it had become the first château to be sought by name. The Médoc was still a swamp at this time with only a few scattered vineyards and it was only when Dutch engineers drained the land in the mid-17th century – primarily to grow cereals to feed the expanding city – that viticulture became possible.
In the early 18th century, a newly wealthy class of professionals bought up much of the land and planted most of the vineyards we know today and it did not take long for the reputation of the wines from here to eclipse that of the Graves.
Courtiers, who had a knowledge of the estates, appeared at this time to act as middle men between the châteaux and the merchants in the city, with the Dutch concentrating on the cheaper wines and the British on the more expensive ones (this was not down to good taste, but down to the high British import duties that made cheap wine uneconomic).
By 1800, the hierarchy of château was essentially as it is now, although after the revolution the ownership had changed to mostly bankers and Bordeaux merchants, with properties, as today, often bought by wealthy men as trophy assets.
At this time, the dominant variety was Malbec, covering as much as 60% of the vineyard area (and considerably more at Lafite). Cabernet Sauvignon first appears in the late 18th century, but was not important in the region until the late 19th century (and it is likely that much was confused with the older variety of Cabernet Franc, of which Cabernet Sauvignon is an offspring).
Wines from Bordeaux had long been ‘improved’ with addition of riper wines from outside of the region (Hermitage was the choice for the top estates, something from Spain or the Languedoc for the vast majority of lesser properties), but when Phylloxera arrived in Bordeaux in 1869, this practice accelerated.
The next decade saw the vineyards slowly dying and quantities of wine produced falling off. The cure was replanting on resistant American rootstocks, but this was expensive and did not happen overnight.
At this time (and indeed up until the 1960’s) most of the top wine was aged and bottled by merchants, rather than at the châteaux, indeed it is not uncommon to see older bottles that were bottled in Holland or the UK. Cycles of boom and bust continually occurred (only 3 estates remain in the families that owned them in 1855 – Léoville-Barton, Langoa Barton and Mouton-Rothschild) and the properties were not generally very profitable. This selling of wine early in barrel helped with their cash flow.
The early 20th century saw many properties being sold owing to bankruptcy, then came the First World War, a brief respite in the 1920’s then the crash and great depression of the 1930’s. Bizarrely the Second World War was not a disaster for the châteaux, as the Germans already had an appetite for Bordeaux wines and business survived. Post-war, money was very tight and although some outstanding vintages came along, proprietors made little return over the next 2 decades and many properties fell once more into disrepair.
To take back control, châteaux started to age and bottle their own wine in the late 1960’s and in the early 1970’s, commercial pressures and a scandal of adulterated wine saw many of the négoce go out of business and the structure of the trade settled more as we know it today. Ownership of châteaux began to change at this time as rich businessmen and corporations began to purchase top estates (and put in much needed investment). The 1982 vintage and a little known (at the time) critic’s views on it helped shape Bordeaux for the next 30 years. The sudden success of this fruit driven vintage, backed by Robert Parker’s scores which made it so easy for ‘non-experts’ to understand, revolutionised the way wines would be made and in time the prices that would be paid for them. This in turn has led to vast amounts of money coming into the region, at least at the top levels and the wines made now have never been better or more consistent.
Whilst the excitement in generated by the top châteaux, the vast majority of the market, in both volume and value terms, lies in wines that sell between €5 and €15 ex cellars (£10-30 on a UK shelf). Around 1 in 7 bottles of wine made in France originates in Bordeaux and a quarter of these sell at under €3 a bottle ex cellars. Under 5% sell for more than €15. The quantity of estate bottled wine has been steadily increasing, but still accounts for only around 60% of production, the remainder being blended and bottled by the négocients for sale under generic labels. Nearly 60% of all Bordeaux is sold on the domestic market, but the vast majority of this is from the cheaper end of production (in 2018 the average price paid by consumers in France was €5.7) and the domestic market accounts for 48% of revenues. Exports vary considerably depending on the perceived quality of the harvest, but stand at around €2.1 billion. China is still the biggest export market by value with around 20% of export sales, followed by the US (11.5%), the UK (9.7%), Belgium (5.6%) then Germany (5.1%).
Only a very small percentage of estates make wines that are sold as futures and that can go on to be traded as a commodity, however these wines daw some spectacular (tax free) growth between the early 90s and 2009, which has further encouraged speculators to invest. Returns in the last decade have been much more mixed, although the top wines continue to perform reasonably.
Estates in the Médoc tend to be quite large (massive compared to Burgundy), with most being between 30 and 80 hectares. Lagrange is the largest Cru Classé with 123 hectares and a property like Lafite makes around 40,000 cases of wine a year. The right bank properties tend to be much smaller, with many proprietors having only a few hectares or less of vines. The 1990’s saw the rise of ‘garagistes’ – tiny producers of opulent and overpriced wine, scored highly by Parker and for a short while highly sought out. This trend seems to have abated somewhat. Most top St Émilion are under 30 hectares in size (Ausone is only 7 ha, although Cheval Blanc is 37ha), whilst Pomerol estates are even smaller, frequently under 15 hectares. This has a profound effect on how they are sold, as away from the famous names (whose rarity coupled with good critic’s scores can lead to massive prices), there is a plethora of choice of smaller properties, who generally rely on the Bordeaux négoce to commercialise their produce. Some fine value can be found here, but also some weedy disappointments.
Traditional is perhaps the first word that would spring to mind, as this is the region that the rest of the world looks to, but many wineries here are very high tech. At the cheaper end, fermentation aims to extract supple tannins and preserve fruit and wines will be aged in tank, not in barrel. High end properties have made large amounts of money in the past generation and have mostly built shiny new cuveries, with all the latest kit. Optical sorters for grapes, computer controlled vats, reverse osmosis machines for concentrating fruit (something few admit to owning) and plenty of expensive new oak barrels. In the middle ground are often well run wineries that more fit the traditional picture of what a Bordeaux cellar would look like. A mixture of tanks, perhaps a decent press and some new oak barrels amongst the older ones.
The process itself in all but the generic wines involves de-stemming of the grapes, a warm fermentation, usually with regular pumping over to extract tannins and flavour and relatively long periods in contact with the skins. Malolactic is usually carried out in barrel where the wines will rest for between 12 months and 2 years.
Whites are either made in a young drinking style with cool fermentation in stainless steel and little maturation before bottling, or they will be barrel fermented with 12 months or so spent on the lees in oak. Whites mostly come from Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves and for the highest quality, Pessac-Léognan. For many years the only notable whites in the Médoc were Pavillon Blanc from Château Margaux and Caillou Blanc from Château Talbot, however other top producers such as Lynch-Bages and Cos d’Estournel have now joined the fray. Some dry white is also made in Sauternes (labelled as Bordeaux Blanc) and a little in St.-Émilion.
Sauternes requires the development of benign fungus (botrytis cinerea) on the grapes which concentrate their sugar and acid by extracting water, whilst also imparting a unique flavour. This only happens when there are damp misty mornings followed by dry sunny days and each bunch is not affected evenly. To make great Sauternes requires luck with the weather and several passages (or tries) through the vineyard to harvest individual berries. Fermentations can be difficult because of the high sugar content and may take months to complete. The wines are fermented and aged in oak, frequently new.
Currently 11,000 hectares are certified organic, with more under conversion.
The Importance of Soils
The region has two main soil types, clay-limestone, which is found in many wine producing regions, and gravel, which is much more unusual.
Left Bank Soils
Whilst gravel is the common feature of the finest portion of the Médoc, the quality of the terroir is influenced also by the underlying bedrock, by the depth of the gravel and by the quantity of clay and sand mixed in. The best wines are all made near the river, where the gravel content is higher (and frost rarer.) Travelling north from the city of Bordeaux, around Loudon and Margaux, the soils are thinnest and most gravelly, making wines that are more supple and perfumed. In the Central Médoc, the bedrock is closer to the surface and the water table is higher so vines have shallower roots. Many fine Cru Bourgeois are here, but no Cru Classés. Next comes St Julien, with deep gravel beds and a touch more clay, leading to wines of finesse and power. In Pauillac the gravel is at its deepest, but also has a higher clay content and wines from here have the greatest power and finesse. St.Estèphe has yet more clay and produces wines of power, tannin and higher acidity. The Cru Classés are all in the south of the commune. Further north in the Médoc appellation, clay takes an increasing hold and the wines start to lose finesse and depth of ripeness. Some notable Cru Bourgeois are here, often with a higher portion of Merlot.
Right Bank Soils
Downstream, at Blaye and Bourg, the soils are of clay and limestone and are too heavy to make the finest wines, although plenty of quite robust and good value wine comes from here.
To the East of Libourne in Pomerol and St. Émilion, the soils are a mixture of gravel, clay with limestone also on the hills, where the finest wines are made. On lower ground near the river the soils become sandy and lighter wines are made here.
Whereas the Médoc is a fairly flat, monotonous monoculture, The Libournais is rolling countryside, with woodland and other crops and is a far more attractive area.
Bordeaux has a maritime climate with hot and humid summers. Rainfall in harvest month is not uncommon and can diminish the quality of the crop, both through dilution and rot, whilst frost damage after flowering is a constant danger (some vineyards lost 80% of their crop to the 2017 frost). Year to year the weather is more variable than in many wine producing regions and leads to great variability in quality and style of vintages here. Historically achieving ripeness could be an issue, but in recent times extreme heat and drought have been greater problems, along with damage from severe summer storms. This shift in climate has contributed to a change in style of the wines, with higher alcohols, more generous fruit and riper tannins, but sometimes at the expense of freshness.
The 1855 Classification came about at the request of the chamber of commerce, to help present the wines of the region at the Paris Exposition of the same year. It was not the first classification that had been made, but for some reason it became a definitive hierarchy and changes (although technically allowed) have been limited to two, the addition of Château Cantemerle and the promotion of Mouton. Vested interests have meant the rest have remained static. The classification was based on the sale price each property attained at the time, which has meant that there are a few anomalies owing to poor management of some estates when the classification was made.
The classification only included the wines of the Médoc (plus Haut-Brion) and those of Sauternes and Barsac (see below for details of this) created the château as brand. In Burgundy, the vineyard itself carries the name that matters, in Bordeaux it is the property, so if, for example, a first growth buys some unclassified land, it automatically becomes eligible to be included in the first growth wine.
Selected château were classified as first, second, third, fourth or fifth growths. Currently there are five 1st, 15 second, 13 third, 10 fourth and 18 fifth growths.
Whilst the classification has stood the test remarkably well as a barometer of quality, certain estates were under performing in 1855 and so are classified below ‘the market’ and one of two are no longer up to the standards of history and do not warrant their status as higher crus. Despite several attempts to revise it, most notably by Alexis Lichine, politics has lept the status quo.
Estates who notably outperform their status in quality and financial terms include; Lynch-Bages, Palmer, Grand Puy Lacoste and Pontet-Canet.
The Graves châteaux were classified in 1953 with a final amendment in 1959, with both red and white wines included. Properties included may call themselves ‘Cru Classé’. Seven properties were classified for red wines only, three for white wines only and six for red and white wines. All are now in the Pessac-Léognan appellation.
Sauternes and Barsac
Classified in 1855 along with the Médoc, there are three tiers, Premier Cru Supérieur, reserved for Yquem, Premier Cru (of which there are 11) and Deuxième Cru (of which there are 14).
The classification here is the most dynamic, with the first classification in 1955 and regular updates occurring in 1969, 1986, 1996, 2006 and most recently in 2012, however the 2006 classification was declared invalid after it was challenged in the courts amid the whiff of corruption. There are three tiers in the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé (A), which includes four properties, Premier Grand Cru Classé (B), which includes 14 properties and Grand Cru Classé which includes 63. The term St. Émilion Grand Cru is not part of a formal classification, but is awarded as part of the basic appellation rules by the syndicat. There are currently over 200 Grand Crus and it is not much of an indication of quality.
The first list of Cru Bourgeois was drawn up by the Chamber of Commerce and included 444 properties in the Médoc that were considered to be superior, but which had not mead the grade in 1855. As substantial revision came into force in 2003 reducing the number to 247, however this classification suffered legal challenges and was annulled in 2007 and the term was outlawed. In 2010 the term was reintroduced but not awarded to the château, but to the individual wine of a vintage. Yet another revision was completed for the 2018 vintage, with the term now awarded to the château itself (as previously) for a 5 year period. Any property could apply, but the classification was based on a blind panel tasting of 5 vintages. A number of high profile producers elected not to be a part of it, but the end list has 249 properties on it, of which 179 are cru bourgeois, 56 are cru bourgeois supérieur and 14 are cru bourgeois exceptionels. Time will tell if these have any relevance for consumers.
There are eight principal varieties, as well as very small amounts of a handful of others such as Carmenère. The main varieties are;
Merlot (66.3% of the red vineyard area) – The most important grape in Pomerol and in St. Émilion, where the clay soils are more suited to this earlier variety. It is also important in the Médoc, where it adds some plump fruit to the mid palate of the austere Cabernet Sauvignon and where it can also occupy the cooler sites. In the northern Médoc, where it is cooler, many wines have a large portion of Merlot. Whilst it can produce a large crop, to be of any quality it needs to be restricted to lower yields than Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon (22.5%) – The backbone of the finest wines of the Médoc and Graves, where it thrives on the well-drained and warm gravel soils. It is late ripening and on cooler, damper clay soils it can struggle to ripen at all, so it is found in lesser quantities in both the northern Médoc and in the Libournais. Ripe it contributes deep colour, plenty of tannins and black fruit flavours. When less than fully ripe, it brings herbaceous notes, especially of green pepper that can add to a wine in small doses, but can easily become unpleasant.
Cabernet Franc (9.5%) – Once very important, there are now only a handful of properties where it is the key constituent (Ausone being the most famous). Ripening between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it can avoid the problems of frost and autumn rains, but when underripe it has a very unpleasant herbaceous edge to it and hard tannins. There are only small quantities of it left in the Médoc, however in St. Émilion it is still widespread as it adds freshness, complexity and perfume to Merlot blends where Cabernet Sauvignon will not ripen reliably.
Malbec (1%) – Historically the most important variety in the region, now the only area with any level of plantings is the Côte de Bourg and Blaye, where its early ripening and generous yield is appreciated. Gruaud-Larose is the only notable property to maintain plantings.
Petit-Verdot (0.5%) – A deep and powerful variety that is viewed as a seasoning to be used with care! Very late ripening, it cannot be used in every vintage (at least for quality wines), but when ripeness is attained, it adds a certain spiciness and weight to Cabernet and Latour, Lagrange and Léoville-Poyferré are all fans. It is not found on the right bank.
Carmenère (0.2%) – Whilst it is prized for its richness of fruit and colour, it had all but disappeared after phylloxera. It is making a modest comeback in the Médoc, with Mouton the main champion.
Sémillon (47% of the white vineyard area) – the backbone of great sweet wines as its thin skin encourages botrytis to develop. It is also used in dry wines, where it contributes a waxy texture and honeyed, tropical notes. It is the widest planted white variety.
Sauvignon Blanc (45%) – The majority of this is in the Entre deux Mers, where it produces fresh, zesty and relatively simple dry wines. It is also used in blends in Graves, where it brings a zesty character to Sémillon blends. It is also found in Sauternes as a small part of blends, where its acidity is prized.
Muscadelle (5%) – Rarely representing more than 15% of a blend, it nonetheless has its adherents for both sweet and dry wines, where it brings a floral perfume.
Colombard – A relatively bland and fruity variety found in Blaye.
Sauvignon Gris – An offshoot of Sauvignon Blanc, it has lower acidity, floral rather than herbaceous notes and can be quite exotic. It is growing in plantings mostly in Graves. In 2019, seven new varieties that are seen as possible insurance against climate change were authorised as ‘experimental’ and for now can only be planted in limited quantities and in the most basic regional appellations. These are the reds Arinarnopa, Marselan, Castets and Touriga Nacional and the whites Albarinho, Liliorila and Petit Manseng.
Critics, collectors and merchants alike obsess about vintage, but with the increased investment in vineyards, technology and selection, amongst the Cru Classés at any rate, there is seldom a poor vintage now, whereas forty years ago there were vintages where barely a decent wine was made. This is not to say there are not vintages with distinct characters to them, just that consumers would do well to drink more from the ‘lesser’ vintages. At the lower end of the scale, the quality of winemaking has meant that decent wines are made virtually every year, even if they are often not age-worthy or especially complex. Below is a brief summary of the last 37 vintages.
1982 – Iconic and hot vintage, the wines were luscious, and relatively low in acidity. Many are fading, but the best are still superb. Best in the Northern communes. Sauternes poor.
1983 – A fine vintage overshadowed by the ‘82s. Margaux was the best commune. Top growths still drinking very well. Right bank variable. Sauternes excellent.
1984 – Poor in the Médoc, worse on the right bank. Should have been drunk long ago.
1985 – Warm summer led to very ripe fruit and lowish acidity. Arguably better balanced than th ‘82s, these drank so well young (like ‘53), that many thought they would not age well, however they can still be majestic now. Great St. Émilion. Sauternes was weak.
1986 – Hot, but very dry leading to small berries and tannic wines. Many only started to soften after 20 years in bottle. Lesser growths dried out before the tannins softened, but top wines are now superb. Good Sauternes, but without the acid for long life.
1987 – Wet early and late. Light wines with little structure, all past their best.
1988 – The first of a great triumvirate. Thick skinned grapes and lowish sugars led to wines of great structure and classical austerity in youth. With age these have blossomed beautifully. Pomerol a bit weak. Sauternes superb.
1989 – Hot and dry. Plenty of tannin, but also alcohol and lowish acidity. In some ways like 1982, but better vinified. Burly, but not without charm when young, these are perfect now. First rate Sauternes.
1990 – Magnificent and arguably the best vintage to date since 1961. Perfect season and great in all areas.
1991 – Severe frost in late April defined this vintage. Not much wine was made, though it was charming young.
1992 – The wettest year in half a century produced mean, dilute wines.
1993 – Another wet year produced another poor crop.
1994 – Wet again. Better than the previous 3 harvests and over-hyped en primeur because of desperation of the trade. None have stood the test of time well.
1995 – A very hot and dry summer produced many fine wines, the best in St. Estèphe and in the right bank. Fine Sauternes also.
1996 – Cool but sunny autumn led to wines that were beautifully ripe, but had very high acidities. The wines are developing very slowly thanks to that acid, but are very fine in the north of the Médoc and Graves. The right bank was adequate. Sauternes very good.
1997 – Very uneven weather throughout the season. Best reds are in the right bank and St Estèphe. With careful selection, this was by no means a poor vintage, but the wines tended to lack a little structure and many are now tired. Some excellent Sauternes made.
1998 – Hot and dry through to harvest when rain fell. Thick skins led to tannic and often austere Cabernet wines, but paradoxically also a bit dilute from the rains. A few great wines were made, but many are tannic and hollow. Merlot was mostly harvested before the rain and this is an excellent right bank vintage. Good Sauternes.
1999 – Good weather but high yields led to a lack of concentration in many wines. The balance was better than ‘98 and many of these are charming to drink now, especially from Margaux. Pomerol can be very good, but St. Émilion suffered from hail and many are weak. Sauternes were excellent.
2000 – Hot and dry, this was an excellent year, although uneven as some wines show signs of over maturity. The right bank made fine wines in a rich and generous style. Poor for Sauternes.
2001 – Suffered in comparison to 2000, yet depending on the style of wine you like, in some cases the wines are better. They certainly have better acid balance and tannins with more bite. An elegant vintage that has gained appreciation after being initially ignored. The right bank wines have much better freshness than the slightly bloated 2000’s, again depending on taste. Great in Sauternes – best since 1990.
2002 – Cool summer, but dry autumn. Late harvest of a small crop. ‘Classically’ styled wines of subtle fruit and much structure. The right bank had a meagre crop of fairly weak wines. Sauternes had some charm.
2003 – A year of extreme heat, although rain also fell. Berries began to raisin and some grapes reached over 15 degrees of potential alcohol. This is a unique year and quite uneven. There are some pleasant surprises – Montrose springs to mind – but also many that are hot, over alcoholic and with harsh tannins. Generally the right bank fared less well. Some hail this vintage as great, for others it is very poor, it depends on what you want Bordeaux to be. Sauternes were unbelievably rich, but lacking acidity.
2004 – Generally cool summer, but September was hot. Dryer than average. Huge crop, but generally this is a very good vintage overshadowed by the following year. Drinking well now. Sauternes only good at the best estates.
2005 – Climatically it was perfection. Good acidity, ripe tannins and very high sugars. This is an exceptional vintage throughout the region, including Sauternes.
2006 – Fluctuated between very hot and cold. Wet in late September which foiled what may have been a great year. Some very good wines made from Cabernet and where rigorous sorting could be practiced, but this is a frustrating year of what ifs? The right bank fared less well and few wines are memorable. Sauternes flabby.
2007 – Cool with wet spells, although rainfall was average overall. Ripeness was elusive and the harvest protracted. The resulting wines are charming, but lack stuffing and structure and are for earlier consumption. Sauternes was very good, as were the dry whites of Graves.
2008 – A damp year with small yields. Harvest was very late, but the resultant wines were elegant, with ripe fruit and firm structure. A good year, if not great. Sauternes decent.
2009 – Warm and sunny, the grapes had high sugars and low acidity. This is somewhat like 1989 and, other than the very high alcohols making some right bank wines a touch unbalanced, this is a very fine vintage indeed. Sauternes are superb – Yquem a potential legend.
2010 – A second hot and sunny vintage, however the grapes were very different to 2009, having lower pH, similarly high sugars and very abundant tannins. Less consistent than 2009 and not as voluptuous, it will be fascinating to see if the best turn out better, after the prodigious tannins have softened. Again, the right bank saw excessive alcohols, which are a matter of taste. Epic dry whites and Sauternes was, for the second year running, superb.
2011 – A more normal summer, warm and wet in September. Coming after the previous two vintages, this was bound to be overlooked, but the wines are actually very good, with an appealing freshness lacking in 2009 and 2010 and with good balance. Very good dry whites.
2012 – Hot in summer, but wet autumn led to a late and dilute harvest. Merlot fared better. By no means terrible, but these are wines for younger drinking.
2013 – Poor, with wet weather and rot causing harvesting of unripe grapes. Light and uninteresting.
2014 – Cool summer saved by a warm dry September. Relatively high acid wines that lack tannic structure, they are nonetheless fragrant and appealing and those who could select ruthlessly made very good wines.
2015 – Hot and dry early, cooler with some rain in late summer. Early harvest of ripe high quality fruit. A very good, potentially excellent vintage – time will tell
2016 – Cool and wet spring followed by a hot and dry summer and warm autumn. Very deep coloured wines have been made, with great depth of fruit but also appealing freshness. Less homogenous than 2015, the peaks are likely to be higher.
2017 – Frost cut the crop considerably. The vintage produced some good to very good wines on the left bank, less so on the right. Very good for dry whites and good Sauternes from the best, poor from those without resources.
2018 – A year that threw hail, mildew extreme heat and drought at producers, but the best have made some dense, tannic and memorable wines. Average Sauternes that lack real botrytis character.