See Decanter's vintage guide for Sauternes and Barsac 2006
Sauternes and Barsac 2006
A challenging harvest but with potential. The successes are impressively pure, fresh and complex, for drinking in both short and long term.
A year of great opportunities but also great challenges. There was very ripe fruit thanks to the heat of July and early September and very fresh fruit from the cool August, but also ‘aigre’ grapes (bad rot) which had gone volatile.
Heavy rainfall mid-September was to blame, turning a forecast easy harvest into a difficult one (smaller yielding too). 17mm of rain fell in Barsac in one night, while from 14-18th September, 100mm of rain drenched Sauternes. Then more rain in both appellations until the 25th.
Sémillon on early ripening soils had split skins in the centre of many bunches with acetic spoilage, while later maturing clay slopes had no botrytis until late September. Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon on low and middle slopes ripened early and became botrytised early September.
2006 more than many another vintage saw the winemakers having to very work hard in the vineyard to have any chance of reflecting the potential of the vintage. Crop thinning, leaf plucking (to promote ripeness) and diligently sorting after picking were vital if costly.
Despite the odds, many growers pulled it off, and while most critics hesitate to call the vintage outstanding, they are impressed with the cool purity of the fruit and overall complexity of some of the wines, from both appellations.
Freshness, long flavours and good length are key characteristics, and while many of the wines are approachable young (from 2010), they have the structure to age for decades.