Château Guirard, located in the heart of the commune of Sauternes, has a 100-hectare vineyard in a single block. The vines are planted around the cellars and the château. The Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes ripen very early at Guiraud and undergo tremendous natural concentration due to the effects of "noble rot" (botrytis).
The harvest takes place in several waves and the grapes are literally picked one by one. This process is not only risky, but accounts for very low yields. It nevertheless results in rich, complex wines.
The quality of Château Guiraud's terroir earned its classification as a First Growth in 1855. The Société Civile Agricole du Château Guiraud is managed by Xavier Planty.
Learn More About Other Dessert
Beyond Port and Sherry, here are a few of our favorites:
Sauternes – the golden wine of the Sauternes region in
Bordeaux, these wines are made with botrytis-affected
grapes and produce a rich, honeyed concoction with an amazing balance of sweetness and acidity.
Don’t discount Sauternes'
neighbor, Barsac, or even the region across the river, Loupiac. Made in the same style, wines from both regions
carry a lower price tag but deliver the same quality.
Ice Wine – Ice wines are made from grapes that are picked in the dead of winter. The
grapes shrivel and then freeze, concentrating the sugar and protecting the grapes. Ice wine is a luscious nectar-like wine
- the best are from Canada (Inniskillin) and
Germany, made from grapes like
Riesling and Vidal (found in Canada).
Tokay – The Hungarian wine from the region of the same name. Drunk by European kings for centuries, Tokay is another
botrytis-affected wine, but made in a different fashion than most. Tokay comes in levels of sweetness, called puttonyos. The
higher the puttonyos, the sweeter the wine. For pure nectar, try Tokay Essencia, a wine so delectable, it's drunk by the spoonful.
Stickies – Australian sweet wines made most often
from botrytis-affected Muscat or Muscadelle.
because that’s what the juice is like. Typically a darker color, stickies are classically from Rutherglen and Glenrowan,
in the Australian state of Victoria.
Late harvest and botrytis – Sweet wines from some regions are frequently labeled as "late-harvest," meaning
were picked later than usual, with increased ripeness levels and sometimes with botrytis. You may see a wine called "botrysized,"
to indicate this. Late-harvest wines are made with grapes with a higher level of sugar.
Some wines to find include: Beaumes-de-Venise,
Alsace Vendage Tardive, Late-harvest Muscats.
Learn More About Sauternes and Barsac, Bordeaux, France
(saw-TURN & BAR-sak)
The regions of Sauternes & Barsac are both located southeast of Graves, almost directly south of St-Émilion, and hug the Garonne River as it curves. Both areas are dedicated to producing sweet, white wines. The rains, the mists, the humidity and the climate, all help foster the necessary mold that leads to the unfortified, but lusciously sweet wines produced there.
Semillon is the primary grape here as it takes well to bortrytis, also known as "noble rot." Sauvignon Blanc is used in the blend to add acidity to the richer, thicker Semillon. The process for making the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac is long, labored and costly. Adter it has reached maximum ripeness, the Semillon grapes are left on the vine until they are infected with botrytis. This helpful mold then shrivels the grapes, concentrating the sugars but maintaining the acids. Weather is not always agreeable and berries must be picked at just the right moment, all by hand. The grapes yeild less juice than dry wines, due to their shriveled and concentrated state. Some houses, like the famed Chateau Yquem, will not make a wine in a less-than-perfect year. All these factors lead to highly prized, and often expensive, wine. However, the taste is well worth it. In the palate the wines of Sauternes & Barsac are luscious and sweet, yet with the balanced acidity to keep them from being too cloying or candied.
Wines with the Sauternes AC must be sweet - dry wines are labeled under the Graves or Bordeaux AC. Barsac wines may be labeled either Barsac AC or Sauternes AC. Typically, Barsac wines are a little lighter in body and less intense than Sauternes.