Possibly the world's most famous sweet white wine, Sauternes comes from five communes on the left bank of the Garonne in the Bordeaux region, where it joins the smaller Ciron river. The proximity of these two rivers to the vineyards creates ideal conditions, in good vintages, for encouraging the development of noble rot (also known as botrytis) on the already mature grapes of the Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grape varieties. This shrivels the grapes, creating a rich, sweet wine of great complexity and richness of texture.
Château Guiraud is a famous old 128 hectare property that had suffered from lack of investment until new Canadian management took over in 1981. Bringing in a talented winemaker, Xavier Planty, they set about improving the overall quality of the wines. Now, all wines are barrel-fermented, and are matured in barrels, 60% of which are new each year. With their concentration, complexity and harmony, these wines are once again among the best in the appellation. Guiraud is one of the founder members of Sapros, a recently formed association of elite producers who make botrytised wines without the use of artificial concentration or chaptilization (adding sugar), both of which are legal in Sauternes.