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Sauternes 2013 to flourish in ‘great year for rot’

The 2013 Sauternes vintage is shaping up to be a bright spot in an otherwise tough year for Bordeaux, according to several sources in the region, including Chateau d’Yquem's managing director, Pierre Lurton.

Speaking on the prospects for Bordeaux 2013 earlier this week at the Chateau Cheval Blanc launch of Cheval des Andes 2008, the property’s Argentinian joint venture, Lurton (pictured) said, ‘it’s a great year for Yquem and a great year for rot, but very difficult for red wines: I fight a lot here [at Cheval Blanc].’

After six or seven ‘tries’ or passes through the Yquem vineyard, Lurton said the juice so far had been ‘high-quality, very fresh, very elegant, with a high level of acidity’.

He added, ‘I think 2013 will be an amazing vintage in Sauternes and in Yquem’.

His comments reflect a general upbeat tone among those with interests in Sauternes, albeit the optimism is more qualified for some. ‘It will certainly be a very good vintage, but maybe not at the top level,’ said Bill Blatch, co-founder of Sauternes and Barsac specialist merchant Bordeaux Gold, in a blog post.

It remains to be seen whether a good 2013 Sauternes vintage will increase demand for Bordeaux’s signature sweet wines. Sauternes was recently labelled as a ‘perennial underperformer’ by fine wine exchange Liv-ex.

Lurton fears that the negative perception of Bordeaux’s reds in 2013 will have a knock-on effect on Sauternes.

‘The bad impression of the red wines, for the reputation of Sauternes, it’s terrible. After all, it’s just a small appellation, only about 2,000 hectares,’ he said.

Turning to Cheval Blanc, Lurton said, ‘it’s not a great year, but a classic, late-picking year – a typical Atlantic climate vintage.’ He compared it to 1980 and noted that he might bottle more of Petit Cheval – Cheval Blanc’s second wine – than of the chateau’s top wine this year.

Written by Richard Woodard

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