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Olivier Bernard to double dry white production in Sauternes

Olivier Bernard wants to more than double his production of dry white wines at Clos des Lunes in Sauternes within the next five years.

Speaking to Decanter.com at a Chateau Guiraud event on the eve of en primeur week, Bernard, who is also the president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB), said that he aims to be producing 300,000 bottles of Clos des Lunes annually within five years.

He currently makes around 120,000 bottles, which are split between Lune Blanche, d’Argent and d’Or.

Dry whites are becoming more popular in Sauternes, partly as a reaction to low market demand for the region’s namesake sweet wines.

Silvio Denz, who this year acquired Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, has already told Decanter.com that he wants to focus more on dry whites and reserve only certain plots of vines for Sauternes.

To map the vineyard more carefully, Denz has hired Xavier Planty, who is co-owner of Chateau Guiraud alongside Bernard, Stephan Von Neipperg and Robert Peugeot.

‘I hope we will have more dry white wine in the region,’ said Bernard. ‘It gives another dimension to Sauternes. And, everywhere that we sell dry whites, we also sell sweet.’

Some producers are campaigning for Sauternes dry whites to be recognised as AOC Graves, or even Sauternes Sec, but not everybody is in favour. Dry whites from Sauternes must currently be labelled as AOC Bordeaux Blanc.

Even if the rules do change, it may take more than a decade.

‘If people make dry white wine, they must sell it as a Bordeaux white. It’s not a Graves,’ said Olivier Casteja, owner of Chateau Doisy-Vedrines and who last year succeeded Climens’ Berenice Lurton as head of the Sauternes and Barsac 1855 Cru Classes producers’ union.

He is wary of the dry white trend in general. ‘Sauternes is an area for sweet wine,’ he told Decanter.com.

Bernard added that he will grub-up 7ha of Semillon and replant with Sauvignon Blanc, which he believes is under-represented in Sauternes.

‘Currently, we are obliged to buy Sauvignon from somewhere else. In 1855, there was more Sauvignon than Semillon in Sauternes.’

Written by Chris Mercer

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