It is tempting to think that there are no longer any novel discoveries awaiting us in Bordeaux, especially not in Sauternes, a region where the style of wine that dominates seems to have been shaped by history itself. This is a vineyard where, even today, the wines made here seem fit for the 19th-century table, for sipping by Russian Tsars, Austro-Hungarian emperors and Victorian dukes and duchesses. And it is a region of which it is easy to conclude, perhaps erroneously, that we have a complete and total understanding of it.
As it happens, nothing could be further from the truth. Here, in the very heart of the Sauternes vineyard, we can still find vignerons of independent mind and strong spirit who are determined to make wines that fit their own unique vision, wines which undoubtedly stand out from the crowd. They may still be fit for emperors and dukes, but I suspect they will also appeal to 21st-century drinkers with a penchant for wines made with respect for the soil, and with minimal intervention in the cellar. The domaine I have in mind is Domaine Rousset-Peyraguey, which sits at the foot of the Château d’Yquem vineyard, and is thus a stone’s throw from any number of famed Sauternes domaines.
While the location may be familiar to any committed drinker of Sauternes, the approach in vineyard and cellars most probably is not. Here in this short profile I provide some detail of this domaine’s vineyards and wines, but I begin first with some history.