Caroline Chevalier

Winemaker at Château Suduiraut


"The biggest challenge of winemaking for me is to manage a well-balanced wine which allows people to drink a glass and then to take another one because they liked it." 




Caroline was born 1978 in Limoges. She made her first vinification with the 2000 vintage at Haut Bages Libéral, 5th classed growth of Pauillac and she is now  the winemaker of Château Suduiraut, 1st classed growth of Sauternes, since September 2001. In 2004, she passed the DUAD in Bordeaux.

The terrior of Sauternes covers 2,200 hectares and lies 40km south of Bordeaux between the left bank of the Garonne River and the forest of Landes.  The appellation of Sauternes covers the communes of Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues, Priegnac and Barsac. The vineyard of Suduiraut covers 200 hectares, of which 92 hectares are planted on a sandy/clay soil.

In Autumn the close proximity of the Ciron and Garonne Rivers gives a micro-climate characterised by misty mornings which are followed by warm sunny afternoons. This climate encourages the development of botrytis cinerea, the famous “noble rot”.

Sauternes is made from a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon, the vines are all hand harvested.  However this is incredibly labour intensive, single grapes are picked when they are ready and in any one harvest which can last between 4-6 weeks you can have many pickings, called “tries”, usually between 5 to 11 tries. The juice from each trie is then produced and kept separately in marked barrels. The winemaker then analyses and tastes all the tries, eventually blending the best  tries to get the best wine from the vintage. 

A particularly versatile wine which can be enjoyed as an aperitif or throughout the whole meal – in our opinion its not just for pudding!


Q & A

How did you get started in the wine trade?

I really wanted to create something, a product that could reunite everyone. And in the same time, I wanted to deal with a high-end product…The choice of wine was obvious! Moreover, I love wine.


What’s been your proudest achievement to date?

My first year at Château Suduiraut is my proudest achievement, it was in 2001. It’s a really big vintage: totally amazing, so I’m really proud.


Describe yourself in three words…

Generous, friendly and rigorous.


What would you do if you weren’t in the wine trade?

I probably would have joined the army and enlisted! I love team spirit, for me it’s really important to be group oriented.


Provide a brief description of your vineyards?

Château Suduiraut is like a diamond in its jewel-case: totally surrounded by the vines. The buildings are from the XVII century and behind the simple front, the flowery gardens, designed by André Le Nôtre, reveal the power of Suduiraut’s terroir. This terroir expressed itself every year also in the wines: complex but delicate with a multitude of flavours and a fresh, endless finish.


What is your winemaking philosophy?

I want to create a wine which represents Château Suduiraut’s spirit and also mine. It’s simple philosophy: the philosophy of sharing.


What’s your most exciting grape variety?

Well, I don’t really have a favourite type of vine. What is really exciting for me is to play with the extraction we get. And if it’s really concentrated I have to manage to get a well-balanced wine: it’s a challenge.


What do you consider to be your biggest challenge of winemaking?

The biggest challenge of winemaking for me is to manage a well-balanced wine which allows to people to drink a glass and then to take another one because they liked it.


Describe where you see the challenges and future development of wine in Sauternes?

The main issue of our wine is that people drink Sauternes as aperitif or with desert, and that’s it. The challenge is to make people understand that they can drink our wines throughout lunch or dinner: with chicken, Sichuan cuisine or blue cheese…


How do you find / what are your experiences of the UK wine market?

The UK market is one of the most important for us: English people love sweet wines and especially Sauternes. They buy a lot of wines and to my mind they have one of the most beautiful cellars in the world.


If you could own one wine property in the world what would it be?

I have been once in Porto in Portugal. I’ve been really impressed by the atmosphere: a mix of pirates’ hideout and western! Moreover I love Porto! So I wish I owned a Porto vinery.


Who has been your greatest influence in the wine trade?

My greatest influence in the wine trade has been my viti master: M. Gailler. He is the one who made me want to be winemaker. He was really funny and totally living for his passion: wine.


What’s your favourite wine and who would you share it with?

I lived several extraordinary experiences when I drank some wines Château Suduiraut 1969 or the Tokaji Disznókö1993. But simply as aperitif, I like to drink a Porto LBV with my husband.


Favourite place to relax away from the vineyard?

Away from the vineyard, I like to go to the beach at Arcachon or Royan. Watching the ocean makes me feel peaceful.


Your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

I also have several favourite restaurants: I’m a gourmand girl! I like the Café Japonais, Le Liban and also the really nice La Cigogne in Angoulême.


Name your desert island dish and wine?

Pain perdu with caramel cream and nougat ice cream with Château Suduiraut 1970 : totally marvellous.


What’s the best wine you’ve ever made?

I’m really proud of 2001.


What car do you drive?

I’m driving a white old Clio.


Do you collect anything?

I’m not a collector but each time I go abroad I like to come back with a souvenir.


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