Saturday, 1 November 2008

New Wines for Christmas – Chateau Sainte Helene

Nick is really delighted to have this Sauternes at Bordeaux-Undiscovered. Château de Sainte Hélène is the second wine of the Second Growth (2ème Cru) Château de Malle (see Nick's Blog Discovering M de Malle). Sainte Hélène has the creamy sweet taste of honeysuckle, orange peel, apricots, cinnamon and honey. It is made by the same team as the first wine and the cultivation of the vineyard is carried out with the same measure of rigorous attention and meticulous care. The wine is made following the same classical tradition as for great Sauternes and is the result of a draconian selection process.

Château de Sainte Hélène is produced from vines that are 10 to 15 years old and the grapes are 68% Semillon, 29% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Muscadelle. However the variations in proportion used in the final blend may fluctuate between 10% and 15 %, depending upon the vintage, in order to benefit from the various characteristics desirable in the wine : youthfulness, freshness and finesse. Only grapes fully infected by Noble Rot, botrytis cinerea, are vintaged by successive selective pickings.

Sauternes is 25 miles south east of the city of Bordeaux and is in Graves and is famous for producing sweet dessert wines. Sauternes lies in the hollow where the river Garonne and its tributary the Ciron converge and the different temperatures from the two river meet to produce mist that descends upon the vineyards from dusk till dawn. The mist helps the development of the botrytis cinerea fungus (known as noble rot). Noble Rot makes the the grape concentrate the flavours and sugars whilst keeping a high level of acidity. To learn more about Sauternes visit Interest In Wine – our sister site – which has lots of information on Bordeaux and its appellations.

Traditionally Sauternes are paired with desserts, crystallised fruits and chocolate but Château Sainte Hélène can accompany fish such as monk fish, prawns, scallops and sea bass as well as Roquefort cheese. Chicken is very often served with Sauternes and creamy sauces made with ginger, honey and spices bring out the fragrance of the wine. Why not visit the Recipes at Bordeaux-Undiscovered to discover some great food and wine pairing ideas for this wine?

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