En Primeur 2023 | Sauternes and Barsac: Vintage analysis and top picks

If you’ve been following the news about the 2023 En Primeur campaign, chances are you already know that it’s an outstanding, if not exceptional, vintage for dry and sweet white wines. Read our analysis of Sauternes ’s sweet wines and discover our favourites.

Our series of articles on the 2024 En Primeur campaign (2023 vintage) continues, with a focus on the Sauternes region.

All our En Primeur 2023 articles

  1. En Primeur 2023 | Bordeaux 2023 coverage: weather and wine characteristics
  2. But why bother buying Bordeaux En Primeur wine?

Good weather conditions for the Sauternes region, even excellent for those prepared to wait

If you read our previous article, you already know that the weather conditions in 2023 were favourable for the production of white wines, particularly sweet white wines.

A particularly fine and warm end to the season from 15 August onwards ensured that the berries were perfectly ripe, rich and ready for botrytis. Some precipitation was recorded from 11 September onwards, and a period of rain, which was forecast to be very heavy but turned out to be reasonable, occurred between 21 and 23 September. From 11 September, botrytisation started at an earlier date than in recent years. With the return of hot, dry weather, the berries gained perfect concentration very rapidly.

So the harvests proceeded smoothly and were generally completed between the end of September and mid-October. Some estates conducted a first selection before the downpour, on raisined and not botrytised grapes, but the bulk of the harvest took place afterwards and up until rain fell on 18 October.

Overall, yields remained low, averaging 12.5 hl/ha, given that the vines often suffered damage from mildew and that rigorous sorting was required during the harvest to retain only the best (eliminating grapes affected by acid rot, scorched grapes, etc.).

Sauternes and Barsac 2023 vintage wine characteristics

The grapes harvested proved to be rich, high in sugar, pure and, most importantly, balanced by a fine level of acidity, higher than in 2022. Overall, we were impressed by the very high quality of the Sauternes and Barsac wines, offering both character and richness, plenty of sapidity and energy, but above all great freshness. We can only strongly recommend the fine sweet wines produced in this region in 2023.

Our favourite Sauternes and Barsac from the 2023 vintage

Château Suduiraut

Here, harvests were conducted between 18 September and 17 October, and split into three selections. The first collection covered raisined grapes and ran from 18 to 27 September, representing around 20% of the harvest. The second collection occurred from 2 to 11 October, accounting for around 70% of the harvest. And finally, the third collection took place on 17 October.

The wine will age for 16 to 20 months in 50% new barrels and 50% barrels that have already aged one wine. From an analytical perspective, this 100% Semillon contains 14% alcohol, 150 g/L residual sugar and a pH value of 3.8.

Aromas of roasted pineapple, fresh mushrooms and hints of citrus fruit emerge on the nose. The mouth is balanced, fresh and rich all at once; the substance is beautiful, with fatness yet no heaviness, a lot of succulence and sapidity with aromas of mango, currants and a very present flavour of dried apricots on the finish, combined with spicy notes, all of which persist a very long time. The estate acknowledges this to be the best vintage ever produced by Pierre Montegut, and for our part, it’s the only wine we didn’t quite manage to spit out after tasting, because it’s so tasty!

Château Coutet

The perfectly healthy grapes for this Barsac Cru Classé were picked between 20 September and 11 October and required no sorting. The blend consists of 95% Semillon, 4% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle.

The nose reveals fresh pineapple, white fruit, apricot and passion fruit, along with spicy and more mineral notes. The ample initial drop leads to a generous yet delicate middle of the body, balanced by the typical freshness of Barsac.

Château Guiraud

This organic Sauternes Premier Grand Cru has also produced a remarkable vintage. Harvests started on 27 September for the first collection and the third ended on 13 October. The blend consists of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Here, yields stood at 10 hl/ha due to mildew. Sugar levels were 130 g/L (higher than 2022) and a  pH value of 4.01.

Aromas of candied, caramelised and spiced fruit combine on the nose complemented by a precise, rich and concentrated mouthfeel offering a hint of freshness.

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Here, yields were very low (5 hl/ha) due to mildew and the sugar content was 160 g/L. It’s a wine entirely made from Semillon grapes.

The nose emerges subtly, offering aromas of ripe pear, candied citrus fruit combined with caramelised and spiced notes. The sapid and suave mouthfeel offers great depth combined with candied fruit flavours.

Clos Haut-Peyraguey

This Sauternes Premier Grand Cru Classé property of Bernard Magrez is unique in that it is the smallest of the appellation’s Premier Grands Crus (around ten hectares). The blend consists of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc.

This rich, powerful Sauternes is full of character, bursting with aromas of apricot, candied citrus fruit and spices. This wine seems destined to age beautifully.

Château Doisy Daëne

This Barsac estate used almost 10% Sauvignon Blanc, a rare occurrence for a property that generally produces wines entirely made from Semillon which adds complexity and freshness as a result of good weather conditions.

In the glass, this wine reveals aromas of fresh exotic fruit and hints of honey. In the mouth, it is dense, rich and suave, well balanced by tension. The whole proves very elegant.

See all Sauternes En Primeur 2023 wines