When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sauternes #Winophiles

Sauternes vineuyard in the spring

A vineyard in Sauternes in the early spring. The ground has become so valuable, corporations buy up property as an investment

Sauternes (and Bordeaux) in the 21st Century
Like it or not, fine wineries have become investments and not just the wines themselves. Bordeaux presents the best example of this change; over the last 30 years, top Bordeaux wineries have been increasingly purchased by large corporations. Property values rise and French inheritance laws make it difficult for families to hold on to properties owned for generations. At first I thought “what a shame”, but having visited several of these corporate owned Bordeaux estates this year, I found they were run by people who care deeply about preserving and improving the heritage of these estates, albeit as employees vs. family. One of these estates is Chateau Suduiraut, a property I had the opportunity to visit. Chateau Suduirat is a 1st Premier Cru Sauternes from the 1855 Bordeaux classification. I was most impressed. So, like it or not, it is reality in today’s world.

Early spring morning in Sauternes, France

Famous for autumn morning fog, it can be misty in the spring, too

What happens to the family who originally owned the property? There certainly is money in the transaction, but all that history is gone. The happy twist to this story is exemplified by Vignobles Philippe Mercadier. Philippe was in charge of the winery at the long-time family-owned Chateau Suduiraut for 25 years until it was sold in 1992.   After all those years, Philippe practically had Sauternes running through his veins, so instead of just giving up, he started over.  He acquired a Sauternes property, Chateau Tuyttens in 1992, and followed with two more properties in 1996 and 2001. Today, Vignobles Philippe Mercadier farms 50 hectares (over 100 acres) in Sauternes, each producing estate wines. While they lack classification of 1855 status, they produce beautiful Sauternes wines, and for us wine enthusiasts, they are a bit more affordable! So does the story have a happy ending? Today, the second generation is running the new estate and creating their own new story.

Philippe’s son Paul and his wife, Emilie, are now in charge of day to day operations, and their 21st century approach shows. They are active on social media with Facebook and a very personal Instagram account. Via Instagram, you get almost daily glimpses of their lives in the vineyard, the winery and their family life. The gallery below is a selection from Vignobles Mercadier Instagram feed, highly recommended!

(click on any photo to view slide show, “escape” to return)

Chateau Tuyttens Sauternes dessert wine

Chateau Tuyttens Sauternes AOC 2014 ($20 half-bottle at France 44)
Eye: Clear, medium+ intensity, beautiful gold color.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity, very ripe apricots, cantaloupe, white flowers,
Mouth: Sweet, rich body, luscious, medium+ acidity. lingering flavors of ripe cantaloupe, apricots, medium+ finish

Chateau Tuyttens Sauternes paired with cannoli

Sauternes pairs beautifully with creamy desserts, even if they’re of Italian heritage!


Favorite Sauternes Pairings
I’ve tried many of the classic Sauternes pairings: foie gras, blue cheese. Sauternes pairs nicely with most fruit or cream based desserts, especially if they aren’t too sticky sweet. Today I went WAY off book and chose to try my Sauternes with cannoli.  You may rightfully remind me this is the French Winophiles, but I was in Broder’s Italian Deli today and the cannoli just looked so good, and they are a creamy dessert, so I went across the border. And they were great with Sauternes! Just don’t tell anyone.

Chateau Tuyttens in the glass

Young Sauternes such as this 2014 are only medium yellow in the glass. Over time, they will darken in color and gain in complexity.

Favorite Dessert Wines from the French #Winophiles
Join us on Saturday, December 16th at 10am CST on Twitter. Find the hashtag #Winophiles and explore our questions and answers, photos and articles, recipes and travel plans.

Here’s what our French Winophiles will be sharing:

A modern Sauternes story at www.foodwineclick.com


21 Responses to “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sauternes #Winophiles”
  1. Great story! I love and admire Philllippe’s tenacity – his devotion to the wines comes through in your post. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  2. What a great story Jeff. It warms my heart to know Philippe set out on his own. Sound exactly like the type producer I would love to support!

  3. Great winery story and your photos are quite stellar. Thanks for sharing Jeff.

  4. Lynn says:

    I too felt it’s a shame Bordeaux wineries are bought by big corps, etc. But it’s great to hear when the original owners step back in, as did Monsieur Mercadier. The cannoli- bravo!

    • Thanks Lynn. I guess great success has its’ curse as well. Big money gets involved, and then it’s an arms race for the big houses. Everyone needs to keep up with the neighbors.

  5. Not a story I was expecting – loved it! Photos were great! All I could think of when I started reading was “No, when life gives you lemons, make lemoncello,” but I’ll take Sauternes any day! (and cannoli, too)

  6. Wow, interesting article and fabulous photos. Love it.

  7. Jane says:

    What a lovely story of perseverance and passion. And… two more estates to visit on my next French wine tour! Thanks for sharing and as always beautiful photos.

  8. Sauternes is the best wine region ever. Fact. 😉

  9. culinarycam says:

    Love the Italian dessert + French wine pairing, Jeff. I have yet to be brave enough to make my own cannoli. Maybe I’ll find some and pick up a bottle of Sauternes. Great piece, as always.

  10. Jill Barth says:

    Fascinating post – I love getting so close to a producer! Thanks for passing along this story and gorgeous pairing!

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