Sauternes and Barsac
If you find yourself at a royal reception or being hosted for dinner by an important dignitary sometime soon, chances are you will receive a glass of honeyed, unctuous Sauternes wine with your dessert. The home of the world's most prized and celebrated sweet wines, Sauternes and Barsac are two neighbouring village appellations located 65 kilometres south of the city of Bordeaux. To make these fickle and expensive wines healthy grapes are left on the vines until they have been infected with Botrytis cinerea, a fungus which dries the grapes and naturally develops the sugars. Weather conditions sometimes make this infection impossible - in 2012, the world's most famous sweet wine producer, Chateau d'Yquem, produced no wine at all. Wines from Sauternes and Barsac are made primarily from Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc used to add freshness and acidity to the blend. Many of the best Sauternes wines can age for many years, and the best wines perfectly balance freshness and sweetness, and power and subtlety.