A daring move: Sauternes dons cocktail gown in a bid to modernise drinking habits

Monday March 16 2015 by Vitisphere

Half Sauternes, half Perrier, some citrus zest and ice cubes: not many people have tried it yet, but plenty already seem to be disgusted at the thought of such an iconoclastic take on this stalwart of French vinous tradition. And yet, according to sommelier Laura Vidal, the result is a “very chic, revisited spritzer with a dash of sourness”. Michel Garat, director of Château Bastor-Lamontagne*, who invented the Sauternes-sparkling water mix, is even more categorical: “There is some dilution”, he admits, “but that just enhances aroma and preserves the genetic makeup of Sauternes. This is a deadly serious initiative – it’s a nice drink”. Involvement by top Châteaux Guiraud and Rayne Vigneau in producing the wine blend for the cocktail - under the umbrella label So Sauternes - is further proof of just how serious the initiative is. Michel Garat expounds further: « The blend makes technical sense as it allows us not to focus solely on the final passes. The grapes have fully developed noble rot but producer lighter, more taut wines. The cocktail provides the sparkling element that so many of our cellar visitors love”. Michel Garat hopes that this unprecedented partnership with sparkling water manufacturer Perrier (Nestlé Waters group) will benefit the entire Gironde wine region.

Convincing others will not be an easy task though and the new drink has been the subject of criticism even before its official presentation, scheduled for March 19 in Paris. Blogger Nicolas de Rouyn (Bettane & Desseauve) was already choking over « the preposterous idea of putting Perrier in my Sauternes!”. Michel Garat says he is prepared to “take a few blows” but is even more insistent that the new cocktail (and its screwcap bottle) is definitely Sauternes: “This in no way undermines sense of place. It’s all about suggesting new ways of drinking Sauternes. If we don’t want to go out of business, we have to provide new experiences”. There is no denying that Sauternes has fallen victim to an inexorable ‘centrifugal force’ which has propelled it into the confined realms of the pudding wines, or worse still, the end-of-year holiday season. Laura Vidal confirms that it is often “left to play a supporting role as a dessert wine”. However, she believes that “it works well from nibbles through to dessert and its flexibility is underestimated”, due to “its fairly elitist reputation as a high-end wine”.


* Along with Châteaux Beauregard (Pomerol), Saint Robert (Graves) and Pavillon Bel-Air (Lalande de Pomerol), Château Bastor-Lamontagne was sold last year by banking group Banque Populaire Caisse d'Epargne to the Moulin (Galeries Lafayette group) and Cathiard families (Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Caudalie...).



[Source: Vitisphere; Photo: Armelle Kergall (So Sauternes/Perrier)]


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