The Cathiard family of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte is to launch a light Sauternes wine to be used in an aperitif drink with Perrier water, in a partnership with two as-yet-unnamed estates.

Sauternes 2013 wines ready for blind tasting during last year’s en primeur week. The new creation by the Cathiard family is unlikely to be something for traditionalists.

SO Sauternes‘ has been described as a modern-style Sauternes made from young vines in a light style, and is aimed at being mixed with Perrier and ice.

In July 2014 the Cathiards bought the 52-hectare 1855 second growth estate Chateau Bastor Lamontagne in a partnership with the Moulin family of Galeries Lafayette group. They are minority shareholders but oversee all winemaking and estate management.

The drink is to be officially launched on 19 March, when the other two Sauternes properties will be named, but it is already causing controversy, with some French journalists questioning why it is necessary.

‘Traditional Sauternes lovers are worried that this will cannibalise their core business,’ Florence Cathiard told Decanter.com. ‘But in a world dominated by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, those who don’t disrupt existing models will have difficulty surviving.

‘There will always be a place for the great Sauternes wines. This is simply an alternative for the younger generation, an aperitif that we hope will later lead them back to this wonderful appellation.’

Cocktails based on wine have been created in Bordeaux before, including Lillet and Blanc Lime. SO Sauternes is to be distributed only in France for the initial launch.

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Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux