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Château Suduiraut

Although winegrowing in the Sauternes region can be traced back to Roman times, there is unquestionably a Dutch influence in the emergence of these wines. In the 17th century, Dutch merchants were well-established in the Barsac vineyards, where they produced sweet white wines without using noble rot. It was only in the early 18th century that the practice of harvesting over-ripe grapes through a process of successive selections was introduced.

The estate took the name of Suduiraut in 1580 upon the marriage of Nicole d'Allard to Léonard de Suduiraut. The château was plundered and burned down during the Fronde insurrection, then rebuilt in the 17th century. It was re-named Cru du Roy in the late 18th century when it was taken over by a nephew of the Suduiraut family, Jean Joseph Duroy, Baron of Noaillan. The family home then acquired a cartouche featuring the Suduiraut and Duroy coats of arms, which was to give rise to the escutcheon used by Château Suduiraut today. The property was planted with magnificent formal gardens, designed by Le Nôtre, King Louis XIV's renowned gardener.

On 18 April, 1855 the estate was classed as a Premier Cru during the official wine classification programme in the Gironde winegrowing area.

AXA Millésimes acquired Suduiraut in 1992, with the aim of preserving and perpetuating the estate's remarkable tradition of vineyard management and winemaking. Inspired by the great Suduiraut wines of the past, the new management has enabled this great vineyard to fulfil its full potential in recent years.

Suduiraut's superb terroir, bathed in sunlight and embraced by autumnal mists generously supplied by the Ciron and Garonne rivers, benefits from ideal conditions for the development of noble rot. The vineyard’s 92 hectares are on a sandy, gravelly soil whose stones capture the heat of the sun, helping the grapes to ripen more quickly. It is this unique terroir that gives the wine its outstanding opulence. This thin soil retains very little water leading to low yields. It concentrates the grapes' qualities and forces the vine to draw its nourishment from deep in the earth. The wine's relationship with the terroir is even stronger because of this, and it expresses itself with strongly-marked minerality. It is this match of opposites, opulence and minerality, that transforms the tasting experience

The team at Suduiraut is passionate about their work is united in the pursuit of its goal: to extract from this great vineyard one of the world's finest wines. These craftsmen use their talent and creativity each year to produce exceptional wines, demonstrating to wine enthusiasts throughout the world the very best that this magical alliance of men, earth and sky can create.

The Suduiraut estate's vines are planted in soil that is superbly suited to Sémillon and Sauvignon grapes. Sémillon, which represents 90% of the Suduiraut vineyard's vine population, is the preferred variety for Sauternes as it has a very thin skin that is particularly sensitive to the Botrytis Cinerea, or noble rot, that gives the wine its concentrated sweetness and aromas. This is rounded off with a richly aromatic 10% of Sauvignon Blanc

High vine planting density (7,000 vines per hectare) and the high average age of vines (30 years) are important factors in the final quality of the wines. Environmentally responsible winegrowing methods and low yields (lower than 15 hectolitres per hectare) ensure the wine’s exceptional quality. A strict selection of the best botrytised bunches during harvest means that Château Suduiraut is made only from the very best that the vineyard has to offer.

Suduiraut winegrowers allow time for the terroir to give its very best. The vines' age (a majority of them are over 30 years old) is a guarantee of exceptional quality, giving well-nourished and more concentrated grapes. Short pruning allows the clusters to gain more sunlight, meaning that the grapes will be smaller and of higher quality. The soil is worked in keeping with traditional Bordeaux methods: the work is done by hand and organic fertilisers are used.

Harvesting is meticulous and painstaking; picking is staggered (the vines are inspected up to five times) to keep pace with the Botrytis development, and clusters are most often only partially picked. Sometimes, however, in years with great concentration, whole clusters are picked to ensure that the wines are well balanced.

Sauternes is quintessentially a wine that is deeply rooted in tradition. Its quality is dependent on meticulous handiwork that requires the talents of a true craftsman. In the cellar the long and intricate pressing process extracts the richest juice before it is vinified and slowly matured in oak barrels, where the precious liquid will remain for 18 to 24 months. Total control of fermentation, barrel by barrel, ensures that the aromas produced by the raisined, botrytised grapes are preserved intact. This stage of the transformation, which is always a little mysterious and emotional even for the most experienced professionals, is followed by a drastic selection of a portion of the precious liquid during blending, so that only exceptional wines will be created. In years when the harvest has not reached the required quality, no Grand Vin will be bottled.

Botrytis Cinerea is both a curse and a blessing. The fungus is present on the undeveloped fruit immediately after flowering and it appears on the grapes as soon as they start to ripen. Its arrival is unpredictable, which has a significant effect on yield, making each harvest even more precious. If the weather is damp, the fungus develops as grey rot and makes the harvested grapes unusable. Any such clusters are cut off and disposed of.

However, if damp mornings in the vineyard are followed by hot days, then the fungus develops as noble rot. It destroys the grape's skin making it permeable to water, thereby leading to greater concentration. The grape becomes raisined and its flesh highly concentrated in sugar and aromas of candied fruit that are characteristic of Sauternes wines.

The proportion of each grape variety used determines the Suduiraut's unique profile. 90% of the estate's vineyards are planted with Sémillon vines and 10% with Sauvignon Blanc. Sémillon is a traditional variety of the region. When it is infected with noble rot it has an ample structure on the palate and gives the wine great mellowness and unctuosity. Wines produced with Sémillon grapes are remarkably aromatic: they evoke honeyed fragrances, grilled nuts (almond, hazelnut), acacia blossom, fig, dried fruit and candied citrus. Sauvignon Blanc has very characteristic aromas of citrus and white peach. When vinified as a liquoreux, or dessert wine, it adds a touch of acidity to the blend, bringing freshness and aromatic complexity.
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