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The turning point is the 2001 Suduiraut. Sauternes reveled in a precocious growing season that compensated for the previous year, and the estate finally addressed the problems of the previous three decades, recognizing that the only approach was quality at any cost. Apparently they did consider releasing a Crème de Tête in this year but decided against it, thereby putting a nail in its coffin. “The Château Suduiraut 2001 was cropped at 15.3hl/ha. We could have made 10,000 cases, but we only made 6,000. The wine has 150gm/L residual sugar, and it was matured in 30% new oak, 30% one year old and the rest two years old, for 24 months,” Seely noted. “You have the same sweetness as 2005,” opined Montégut, tasting the wine again in Sauternes, “but more acidity, mineralité and spiciness.” Now, at 17 years of age, it finally delivers a nose worth getting excited about, delivering gorgeous quince and dried honey aromas and a slightly Barsac-inspired but beautifully balanced and viscous palate.
Classed as a Premier Cru in 1855, it is made from grapes selected from the finest terroirs of the property. This wine is hand crafted at every stage of its elaboration and reveals remarkable finesse and complexity and a golden colour reminiscent of the sun that made it possible. With age the bright gold evolves to a dark amber colour.
With an extensive life-span, it powerfully and harmoniously combines fruit and floral aromas with roasted and candied notes.
Its superlative elegance comes from a match of total opposites: a voluptuous texture, mineral freshness and the heat of spices. Château Suduiraut is designed for all those who enjoy sensory and emotional experiences that are both rich and full of surprises and leave a lasting memory.
The estate as it now stands has its roots in the early 1600s, when Count Blaise de Suduiraut, grandson of the estate’s founder Leonard de Suduiraut, commissioned the construction of the fabulous castle and gardens. The count turned to the designer of the park of the Palace of Versailles, the landscape architect of the Sun King, André Le Nôtre, requesting a design for a stunning château setting. Le Nôtre turned Suduiraut’s estate into the most beautiful in Sauternes.
The count passed the estate on to his daughter, and she to her cousin Joseph du Roy. The du Roys were at the helm for three generations, after which the heirless Louis-Guillaume du Roy left the estate in his will to its steward, Nicolas Guillot. Guillot carried out major developments at the estate. In 1831 he significantly expanded the lands by buying up the neighbouring Castelnau. Led by Guillot and his descendants, Château Suduiraut came into great esteem. In the 1855 Bordeaux classification, it was named as one of the premier crus of Sauternes and Barsac.
In 1875 the estate ended up in the hands of Emile and Lucie Petit de Forest, who further increased the reputation of its wines, receiving great acclaim in several competitions and exhibitions. Before his death in 1899, engineer Emile Petit de Forest managed to revive the plots ravaged by phylloxera through extensive replanting and his widow was able to continue the successful production of Suduiraut wines until her own death in 1929. That event was the start of Château Suduiraut’s decline.
The couple’s daughter, Isabelle Petit de Forest, and her husband were unable to maintain the high quality of the wines and Suduiraut’s reputation plummeted. Finally, the 1930s’ recession and the Second World War forced them to sell the estate to a successful industrial tycoon, Leopold-François Fonquernie, in 1940. Fonquernie made large-scale investments into the estate in order to restore its historic reputation, but it took him over forty years to manage it. There were no major changes in wine quality until Pierre Pascaud was hired as the estate’s manager and focused on improving production methods.
He changed the old barrels that lay in the cellars, partly gave up the use of large cement vats and concentrated on being more selective in his winemaking. Quality improved, and by the 1980s, Suduiraut’s wines were again valued around the world. In 1992 the estate changed hands again when the French insurance giant AXA Millésime bought it from Fonquernie’s daughters. Pierre Pascaud continued working there until his retirement in 1995. Pascaud’s son Alain followed in his father’s footsteps and was in charge of winemaking on the estate until succumbing to an illness that led to his eventual death. Since 2004, wine production has been under the management of Loire-born winemaker Pierre Montégut.
After a normal vegetative cycle, the grapes reached optimal maturity at the end of August. The botrytis took an inordinate length of time to set in during September due to the total absence of rain. Finally, the rainfall of September 20 triggered an all but general attack of the botrytis throughout the vineyard. Helped with a few days of sunshine and the prevailing north-east wind, the grapes benefited from rapid and exceptional concentration.
The first two pickings in September yielded no more than 15% of the harvest, with batches of good richness and very fruity aromas. The third and fourth pickings brought impressive volumes every day (140 hl/day).
Château Suduiraut 2001 has a golden yellow colour with its hints of green. The nose gradually opens up to reveal an intense bouquet of outstanding finesse with aromas of melon, mango, candied lemon, hints of white flowers and mint. It is both concentrated and very long on the palate, offering the promise of new sensations. Although it still has to come round fully, it gives an impression of complexity, strength and elegance. The finish is crisp and fresh with hints of sultanas and mineral touches.
A vintage marked with a red letter and a magnificent expression of the terroir.