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Domaine de l'Alliance, Sauternes 2013 - 500ml
87% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Muscadelle
The bouquet of this Sauternes from Domaine de l'Alliance is very focused and delineated, perhaps not as powerful as recent vintages, yet very precise. The palate is vibrant on the entry with zesty, citrus fruit that ping-pongs around the mouth: orange zest, hints of marmalade and quince. The finish feels long in the mouth and leaves you with a lovely peppery aftertaste.
145g/l Residual Sugar - low for late harvest Sauternes. This lends definition and freshness, rather than anything cloying and overtly unctuous.
Average yields are always incredibly low.
Vines average 50 years old.
20% of wine is aged in new 350-L barrels, 20% in 350-L barrels of one passage, 60% in 225-L barrels of one, two, or three passages
I doubt that any of our growers work harder than Daniel Alibrand does, in order to achieve the best possible result from his 7.5 hectares of old vines in the famous Sauternes commune of Fargues. Making top class Sauternes is fraught with risk, with the ever present possibility of putting in a hard year’s work with almost nothing to show for it at the end. In 2012 for example, Daniel produced just a single small cask of Sauternes and in 2017 his yield is little over 2 hectolitres per hectare, about a tenth of the maximum permitted, though rarely achieved in this appellation in a normal year. His crop will be around a fifth of that realised by red wine makers in the Medoc. He likes to have around 145 grammes per litre of residual sugar in his Sauternes, this level providing the most harmonious balance with the acidity and alcohol, and ensuring that this remains a dessert wine that is refreshing rather than cloying. In recent vintages, sensibly realising that the demand for sweet wines is smaller than for dry ones, he has worked hard to produce a good quality of an increasingly excellent dry white wine under the name ‘Definition’. This barrel fermented wine develops beautifully with a bit of bottle age and provides a worthy alternative to decent white Burgundy that cost twice as much, while his Sauternes is a match for Chateau d’Yquem itself which costs ten if not twenty times as much. Be in no doubt, Daniel Alibrand is a ‘vigneron extraordinaire’.