The Only Merchant In America With This Wine!

So, as the story goes … In the spring of 2006, while I was finishing up my first month in the wine business, John was visiting Bordeaux for the annual en primeurtastings. On getaway day, he was down in Barsac visiting Chateau Climens, where he was informed about the length of the Sauternes harvest. The 2005 harvest period was unusually long as some grapes weren’t picked until November!Having so many different batches of grapes gave thevignerons a wide palate of flavors to blend with, adding to the already complex nuances of these grapes affected by the noble rot. By the time he made the trip back up to Bordeaux proper, it was getting late in the day, and the prospects of tasting many other Sauternes from this amazing vintage were dwindling. He did have an appointment with a negociant, and when he arrived, he was met and taken to a room (really, an entire room) full of unopened wine bottles most of which were 2005s. As is custom, he was offered the opportunity to taste whatever struck his fancy, and amongst others, he swirled a 2003 Sauternes from a lesser-known Chateau d’Arche-Lafaurie. It was their fairly new Cuvee Madame, which we are coming to learn is a huge step up from previous offerings from this chateau. Impressed with the 2003, he had a go at the 2005 as well, and loved it. His tasting notebook dog-eared at the page, he returned home, and when the wine came up for sale as futures, he bought some.

 What is interesting about this is that according to a few wine-specific search engines, we are the only merchants in the country carrying this wine!We sold some as futures, and I made a point of questioning those of you who bought this wine as to why you chose this particular chateau, as I didn’t have any knowledge of these wines. I found that many of you either had experience with, or heard about the success of the 2003 version. Anyway, when the wine finally arrived, our staff had to try a half-bottle.

As we were all tasting this wine, you could hear descriptors like, creme brulee, coconut cream, dates, and candied pear. Followed by, “How much is it??!! You’ve got to be kidding, this is great!” All of us who tasted that day were very impressed. I could go on and on about the vintage itself. Wait a sec, I already have! Suffice to say, despite what I have read about Sauternes vintages of the oughts, to me, 2005 is clearly the most complex, pleasurable vintage for these amazing wines.


After working hard in the kitchen with prep and execution, having had some laughs and lively conversation with friends both while cooking and during dinner, not to mention having tasted some fine wine paired with said dinner, warrants the question, How do you follow an act like that? We’re making it easy for you. A simple half bottle of 2005 Chateau d’Arche-Lafaurie Cuvee Madame will do the trick. Sure, if your table is bigger than mine (most are), then perhaps a full bottle. Bring ’round the cheeses, bring the desserts, or simply sip your dessert. It’s all good.


PS If you think you might want to cellar some of this wine for posterity, I say good idea, you’re on to something. A Sante! – Peter Zavialoff


Tasting Notes

Ah … there’s nothing like having a glass of fine Sauternes in your hands. Savor the aromatics. I picked up aromas reminiscent of Butter Rum LifeSaver, with hints of caramel, pear, and sawdust. It enters the palate much like a long ride on a big wave. The flavors and vibrancy come together hand in hand and seemingly ride on forever. The wine seems to intensify as it builds tension which never pushes you over the edge. It finishes with a zippy lift that leaves you thinking about how to conserve what’s left in your glass without compromising your gustatory experience.


Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2005 Sauternes, staff tastings, Butter Rum LifeSavers, or the wine business in general: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net