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Producer profile: Château de Cérons

I can do no better than quote Stephen Brook: ‘Even in old age Jean Perromat (born in 1923) was a tall, imposing figure, exuding the authority he yielded for decades as mayor of Cérons and tireless promoter of its sweet wines.

The Perromats are an influential family in the region and his brother Pierre was for many years president of the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO). The château is a lovely 17th-century manor in the Bordeaux ‘chartreuse’ style, opposite the village’s Romanesque church.’

Here is history in the making, and in its brave continuation: Cérons lies just north of Barsac and was awarded its own appellation in 1936, 10 days before Sauternes was similarly recognised. Cérons, with its little port on the Garonne to facilitate trade, was long part of Sauternes until being expelled in 1921 to allow the absorption of the commune of Fargues into Sauternes, perhaps influenced by the Lur-Saluces family of d’Yquem and Filhot, then, as now, owners of Château de Fargues.

While the Cérons appellation covers the villages of Podensac and Illats as well as Cérons itself, production of its flagship sweet wine has declined in favour of dry white and red Graves. Current owners Xavier and Caroline Perromat, devoting five of their total of 26ha to this almost forgotten appellation, are deserving of the highest praise.

The plots for the sweet wine are made up of gravel with sand and small stones resting on a limestone bedrock. The microclimate caused by the proximity of the Ciron river allows the same development of botrytis cinerea (noble rot) as in the Sauternais. Several pickings during the vintage send only botrytised grapes to be pressed gently and aged in oak for 18 months. The quality is superb.

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