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News

Vintage Raport 2020

The autumn and winter of 2019-2020 were very wet. Total rainfall reached 519 mm in March, more than half the annual average. It was accompanied by mild temperatures, leading to bud break more than two weeks earlier than usual. This advance persisted, even with significantly cooler weather at the end of the month and a frosty day on 27th March. Flowering, although early, took place in unsettled weather, causing coulure. The impact was very irregular, varying according to the terroir, how early the plot developed, and the age of the vines. Good weather returned in July, with conditions becoming very dry, and above all very hot. The water reserves enabled the vines to withstand the successive heat waves, and a little rain in mid-August brought the ripening of the grapes back on track. The ripening process drew to a close about ten days ahead of schedule under very favourable weather conditions: hot days and cool nights, which preserved the range of aromas.

The harvest began on 16th September and ended on 5th November, with a total of four selective pickings. We harvested mainly passerillés grapes on this first clean-up picking that lasted four days from 16th September. The quantity harvested was very small. A first period of unsettled weather brought 68 mm of rain over 10 days.
At the end of September our hopes were raised with Botrytis Cinerea covering the whole vineyard, but unfortunately a second period of unsettled weather brought significant rainfall. 

Before this, we quickly carried out another selective picking in the vineyard's finest terroirs on 29th and 30th September. We resumed the second selective picking only on 12th and 15th October.
On 19th October our decision to wait for a sunnier, more stable period yielded excellent results with an abundant third selective picking, which brought wellbotrytised grapes, of high quality and satisfactory quantity (350 hl). The third selective picking ended on 24th October. Another rainy period brought the harvest to a halt. With 30 mm more rainfall, the sugar content dropped sharply and we took another risk waiting to take full advantage of forecast sunshine. We started the fourth and final picking on 2nd November. Once again, the outcome was successful. We harvested abundant, healthy batches, worthy of our Grand Vin. The pickers meticulously selected only those grapes affected by the right type of rot. Ultimately the yield was 8.5 hectolitres per hectare, the batches were of an extremely high quality reflecting Château Suduiraut 2020 profile.

 

 

 

Vintage Report 2018

The 2018 vintage was characterized by wet weather and mild temperatures. We recorded an average of 90 mm of rain until bud break, which started the first week of April, a week later than in recent years. With high rainfall throughout the winter and spring, cryptogamic pressure was present. Mildew became a concern, particularly following the rainy periods of 14th to 18th May and 4th to 8th June. Foliage was marked by the parasite but fortunately the outbreak was contained. A hot and dry summer helped to reverse the situation. We were spared by the hailstorm of 15th July that hit the western part of the appellation. At the end of the season, the grapes were able to reach a perfect maturity and we were able to harvest plot by plot.


The harvest took place from 10th October to 9th November, with a total of four selective pickings. The very dry weather in September was not conducive to the development of botrytis and we had very little shrivelling in the vineyard. We therefore waited for the Botrytis Cinerea fungus to appear. A rainy period from 6th to 10th October accelerated the spread of botrytis but without much concentration. We were nonetheless able to start the first selective picking on 10th October, two weeks later than usual. This picking gave the lowest yield in 15 years, with 30 hectolitres in four lots.


More rainfall from 15th to 16th October gave rise to renewed hopes and we started a second, more generous, more concentrated picking from 22nd to 26th October. We had to be conscientious in order to obtain the usual quality. It felt like a repetition of 2008, when we had a lengthy wait between each picking for the grapes to become desiccated. After a sunny weekend, we started the third picking on 29th October. But yet again, there was a loss of grapes and we only just managed to achieve the concentration required. We finished on 8th and 9th November with a final picking to round off the harvest. The yield was between 5 and 6 hectolitres per hectare.

 

Vintage Report 2017

The weather in 2017 was generally warm and dry. Spring was normal, with an early bud break. This earliness was jeopardised by frost on two occasions: on 21st and 27th April. The periphery of our vineyard, about 25-30% in all, was affected.
The meteorological conditions caused discrepancies in vine growth, with almost a month's difference from one plot to another. There was also heavy rainfall in May and early June. Summer was hopefully warm and dry. A bit of rain helped the grapes to ripen, and the vineyard reached maturity one week earlier than expected.

The grape harvest took place from 26th September to 19th October with a total of three selective pickings.
Botrytis developed well in early September thanks to the rain on 3rd and 10th September. However, concentration progressed slowly due to significant humidity. We began the first selective picking on 26th September, lasting for 15 days according to the different plots. The weather subsequently became increasingly clement, and second selective picking started while the first was still taking place. We obtained concentrated must and a generous quantity of 10 hectolitres per hectare, on average. This was the middle of the harvest.

 

 

Château Suduiraut has released its opening price for its 2015 wine, adding to the tally of fellow sweet wines already out.

The Sauternes estate has released at €45.6 per bottle ex-négociant, which is 8.6% up on its 2014 release price of €42.The wine has been given good scores, Neal Martin called it “wonderful” and awarded a 95-97-point rating, while Jancis Robinson MW rated it 18, Tim Atkin MW 95 and Jean-Marc Quarin 93.

So its scores are reasonably high and consistent but at that release price its market price of £480 a case makes it far and away the most expensive of its wines dating back to 2005 currently available.The higher rated 2009 for example is under £450 a case and the equally-rated 2014 is a shade under £400 a case.

Martin has been particularly effusive in his praise for the 2015 Sauternes and Suduiraut may not be asking too much for its 2015 (underpriced and undervalued as the wines are). Nonetheless, aside from its own back vintages there are other similarly scored Sauternes already released this campaign that cost less.

 

 

2014 Harvest Report – Château Suduiraut

After the spectacular film of the Pichon Baron harvest, I thought the best way to give you some idea of how things went in the other properties would be to talk to the individual directors of each property and ask them to give us their view on how things went in 2014.

Here is Pierre Montégut of Château Suduiraut, Sauternes:

“The excellent arrière saison of this vintage enabled us to harvest à la carte. We were able to wait for the skins to become finer and for the pips to ripen gently.

We began the Merlots on 23 September for the parcels of younger vines. The older vine Merlots were harvested between the 28th and the 30th September. Finally the Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon were harvested on the 6th and 8th October.

The aromatic profile of the Merlots is about freshness for the younger parcels, and ripe fruit for the older vines. We have a lovely concentration of tannins and the post fermentation maceration gave a lot of depth to the wines. The Cabernets are seductive and very well structured. Their maceration finished just recently.

This is a very lovely vintage, with beautiful equilibrium in the wine. Young wood will be integrated at around 50 to 60% to preserve the fruit. Yields were pretty low at 30 hectolitres per hectare, but the quality is there!”

“At Suduiraut the harvest ended on 30th October, with a fourth trie. We began early on the 12th September with a trie designed to clear up the vineyard, which took a long time but was very unproductive, (less than 1 hl/ha). We had a mixture of Botrytis and passerillage, a situation which continued during the second trie at the beginning of October. The proportion of Botrytis increased as we picked.

Rain and humidity then favoured the development of a new generation of Botrytis, but the concentration happened slowly, and we harvested very selectively, parcel by parcel, often picking grape by grape and only one or two days per week. This third trie was drawn out, lasting from 15th October to 24th October.

Magnificent hot and sunny weather after the 22nd finally resulted in some profound concentration, and we finished the final trie between the 27th and 30th October.

In terms of quality, we are very happy with the wines, with a great diversity of style and richness between the different tries, but the principal characteristic of the 2014 will be its freshness with very low PHs, of the kind we have not seen for over ten years. So, a great year in terms of quality, but unfortunately the bad news is the quantity, which is very low: we finished with a total harvest of between 6 and 7 hectoliters per hectare.

It is worth noting that the dry white, the ‘S de Suduiraut’, will also be one of the best we have made since 2004.”

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History

The birth of Sauternes / Although winegrowing in the region can be traced back to Roman times, there is unquestionably a Dutch influence in the emergence of these wines. In the 17th century Dutch merchants were well-established in the Barsac vineyard, where they produced sweet white wines without using noble rot. It was only in the early 18th century that the practice of harvesting over-ripe grapes through a process of successive selections was introduced.

The estate took the name of Suduiraut in 1580 on the marriage of Nicole d’Allard to Léonard de Suduiraut. The château was plundered and burned down during the Fronde insurrection, then rebuilt in the 17th century. It was re-named Cru du Roy in the late 18th century on being taken over by a nephew of the Suduiraut family, Jean Joseph Duroy, Baron of Noaillan. The family home then acquired a cartouche featuring the Suduiraut and Duroy coats of arms, which was to give rise to the escutcheon used by Château Suduiraut today. The property was planted with magnificent formal gardens, designed by Le Nôtre, King Louis XIV’s renowned gardener. On 18 April 1855 the estate was classed as a Premier Cru during the official wine classification programme in the Gironde winegrowing area. AXA Millésimes acquired Suduiraut in 1992 with the aim of preserving and perpetuating the estate’s remarkable tradition of vineyard management and winemaking. Inspired by the great Suduiraut wines of the past, the new management has enabled this great vineyard to fulfil its full potential in recent years.

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Vineyards

This superb terroir, bathed in sunlight and embraced by autumnal mists generously supplied by the Ciron and Garonne rivers, benefits from ideal conditions for the development of noble rot.

The vineyard’s 92 hectares are on a sandy, gravelly soil whose stones capture the heat of the sun, helping the grapes to ripen more quickly. It is this unique terroir that gives the wine its outstanding opulence. This thin soil which retains very little water leads to low yields. It concentrates the grapes’ qualities and forces the vine to draw its nourishment from deep in the earth. The wine’s relationship with the terroir is even stronger because of this, and it expresses itself with strongly-marked minerality. It is this match of opposites, opulence and minerality, that transforms the tasting experience into a revelation for the senses.

Suduiraut winegrowers allow time for theterroir to give its very best.The vines’ age (a majority of them are over 30 years old) is a guarantee of exceptional quality, giving well-nourished and more concentrated grapes. Short pruning allows the clusters to gain more sunlight, meaning that the grapes will be smaller and of higher quality. The soil is worked in keeping with traditional Bordeaux methods: the work is done by hand and organic fertilisers are used.

Harvesting is meticulous and painstaking: picking is staggered (the vines are inspected up to five times) to keep pace with Botrytis development, and clusters are most often only partially picked. Sometimes, however, in years with great concentration, whole clusters are picked to ensure that the wines are well balanced.

The Suduiraut estate’s vines are planted in soil that is superbly suited to Sémillon and Sauvignon grapes. Sémillon, which represents 90% of the Suduiraut vineyard’s vine population, is the preferred variety for Sauternes wine as its very thin skin is particularly sensitive to the Botrytis Cinerea that gives rise to noble rot, giving the wine its concentrated sweetness and aromas. This is rounded off with a richly aromatic combination of 9% of Sauvignon blanc and 1% of Sauvignon.

High vine density (7,000 vines per hectare) and the high average age of vines (30 years) are important factors in the final quality of the wines. Environmentally responsible winegrowing methods and low yields (lower than 15 hectolitres per hectare) ensure the wine’s exceptional quality. A strict selection of the best botrytised bunches during harvest means that Château Suduiraut is made only from the very best that the vineyard has to offer.

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Winemaking

The team at the Suduiraut estate, passionate about their work are united in the pursuit of their goal: to extract from this great vineyard one of the world’s finest wines.

Sauternes is quintessentially a wine that is deeply rooted in tradition. Its quality is dependent on meticulous handiwork that requires the talents of a true craftsman.

In the cellar the long and intricate pressing process extracts the richest juice before it is vinified and slowly matured in oak barrels, where the precious liquid will remain for 18 to 24 months.  Total control of fermentation, barrel by barrel, ensures that the aromas produced by the raisined, botrytised grapes are preserved intact.

This stage of the transformation, which is always a little mysterious and emotional even for the most experienced professionals, is followed by a drastic selection of a portion of the precious liquid during blending, so that only exceptional wines will be created. In years when the harvest has not reached the required quality, no Grand Vin will be bottled.

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Inside information

Botrytis Cinerea: curse or blessing

The fungus is present on the undeveloped fruit immediately after flowering and appears on the grapes as soon as they start to ripen. Its arrival is unpredictable, which has a significant effect on yield, making each harvest even more precious.

If the weather is damp the fungus develops as grey rot and makes the harvested grapes unusable. Any such clusters are cut off and disposed of. 

If damp mornings in the vineyard are followed by hot days the fungus develops as noble rot. It destroys the grape’s skin making it permeable to water, thereby leading to greater concentration. The grape becomes raisined and its flesh highly concentrated in sugar and aromas of candied fruit that are characteristic of Sauternes wines.

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9 different wines with 114 vintages

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