is a wine region within Bordeaux
that produces some of the world's finest, longest-lasting white dessert wines, as well as some dry white wine
. These wines are made from Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc
grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea
, also known as noble rot
. This causes grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in extremely concentrated and distinctively flavored wines, typically with an arresting golden color. Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence, due to its mesoclimate. Even so, production is a hit-or-miss proposition, with widely varying harvests from year to year.
Wines from Sauternes, especially its flagship estate Château d' Yquem, can be very expensive, but this is due to limited availability as much as to the cost of production. Barsac lies within Sauternes, and is entitled to use either name. Somewhat similar but less expensive and typically less-distinguished wines are produced in the neighboring regions of Monbazillac, Cérons, and Cadillac.
Sauternes is a very sweet, intense wine, and is typically not served as a table wine. It can be drunk by itself in place of dessert, with a dessert, or with rich savory foods like foie gras (the canonical pairing) or Roquefort cheese.