There was something almost magical about our final destination for the day, Chateau Guiraud. Maybe it was the time of day (mid-afternoon), and the way the sunlight played off the facade of the stone building, but it seemed a very warm and welcoming place, not quite as imposing as some other Chateau in the region.
We actually found this to be a good metaphor for the entire visit at Guiraud. Our lovely guide started by telling us stories about the history of the Chateau. It began as the “Noble House of Bayle,” when it belonged to the Mons Saint-Poly family. In 1766, Pierre Guiraud, a Bordeaux merchant of Protestant faith purchased the estate. The Guiraud label is one of the only black labels on a Sauternes bottle from the region, and this was apparently somewhat deliberate, as the new owners were considered the black sheep of the area. They were not local, not Catholic, and their political views also greatly differed from the prevailing local sentiment. On his death in 1799, Pierre’s son Louis, succeeded him. It was under Louis Guiraud that the estate was saved from a severe devaluation which had begun in 1793, becoming a famous château well-known for its wine. On Pierre’s death in 1837, his son Pierre-Aman inherited a well-established property. Within 80 years and three generations, various families succeeded each other as owners of the estate. The legend was born in 1855 when Château Guiraud became a Premier Grand Cru de Sauternes.
Also according to the Guiraud website, during a dinner in early 2006, Robert Peugeot, an industrialist, and three wine makers, Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier, Stephan Von Neipperg of Château Canon La Gaffelière and Xavier Planty, the estate’s director, decided to buy Guiraud. They signed a purchase contract on July 20, 2006, thereby uniting their shared passion for wine, gastronomy, nature and hunting.
Chateau Guiraud had begun harvest the day we arrived, so we were lucky enough to meet the estate’s director, Xavier Planty. We were also lucky to taste some very nice vintages from Guiraud:
2010 Petit Guiraud – Very bright light fruits with a good dose of spice and very good acidity, lively in the mouth. Medium bodied and long spicy fruit finish. This is an excellent 2nd wine.
2003 Chateau Guiraud – Ripe peaches, apricots and spicy orange marmalade, very good acidity for the vintage. Very long finish of peaches, a little orange rind and spicy honey. This is an excellent 2003 Sauternes.
It was fun to watch Christina taste these wines. She had a very positive reaction to the 2003 Chateau Guiraud, and I will say I found it to be a more complete wine than the rest of what we tasted that day as well. In general, I have not liked the Sauternes from the 2003 vintage. I have found them lacking in acidity and a little too cloyingly sweet for my taste. What I discovered, is that Chateau Guiraud uses the 30% – 35% Sauvignon Blanc in their blends, where most Chateaux only use 0% – 15%. This extra percentage of Sauvignon Blanc give the wines of Chateau Guiraud more acidity than the other Chateaux in Sauternes. Knowing that I prefer Sauternes with higher acid, it makes me very happy that I have a fair amount of wine from Chateau Guiraud resting in the cellar. The 2001 Chateau Guiraud is an excellent Sauternes and a very good value for the quality.
Ah, what a day. Now we were headed back to the hotel. We spent most of the next day lounging about at Les Sources de Caudalie – and having a few fun new adventures – can you say underground cellar? Stay tuned…