The over maturation
The wine-making process of sweet wines is based on a natural principle of over maturation of the grapes. This is the moment where the grape reaching its size and its maximum sugar concentration, starts to loose the water and thus increases its sugar ratio.
Among the natural phenomena leading to the over maturation, the raisined berries result of a natural sunburning of the grapes which are being left on the wine to dry what intensifies the sugar in it.
Thanks to the sun, a microscopic fungus named "botrytis cinerea", has its action – first blocked (which avoids to evoluate toward acid rottenness) – then transcended, in the noblest possible way, under the sun effect, generating high sugar content inside the grapes by water evaporation. This evaporation is eased by the action of the botrytis cinerea which made porous the berries' skin.
Thanks to this process, subtle and delicate flavours of elder-tree, honeysuckle and honey are concentrated under the grape skin thus resulting to great sweet voluptuous wines creation.
At the end of September, as well as in October, the pickers go through the vineyard several times, making several pickings, each time selecting only the grapes that have been completely shrivelled up by the sun. Consequently the harvest is very limited in size, which explains why sauternes growers have always been far more concerned with quality than with quantity. The production of Dudon is only 2 to 3 glasses per vine stock. The proximity of the castle from the wine storehouse ensures an additional guaranty of quality, by preserving the grapes from being crushed during the transportation. The grape is thus left intact to the winepress.
From yesterday to today
noble grapes also called rot grapes are lightly pressed
to avoid crushing the stalks and thus preventing the acid
taste that may occure.
The noble grapes also called rot grapes are lightly pressed to avoid crushing the stalks and thus preventing the acid taste that may occure.
The ageing of the wine starts then. The great advantage of the sweet wines against white dry wines is their capability to improve when ageing.
Drunk young, the wine is fresh and fruity, whilst if aged for any length of time (the best vintages can be kept for up to hundred years) it will develop the lusciousness, the breeding and the body which is so peculiar to Sauternes. Fine Sauternes should be handled with great care and the bottles laid down on their side in a cool and temperature controlled cellar.
A long line of qualified storehouse masters :
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