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2010 Ch. Doisy-Daëne, Barsac
Scores and Reviews
Château Doisy-Daëne is a Barsac estate that produces top-class, sweet Bordeaux white wines that are characterised by their finesse and richness.
It takes the second part of its name from an English gentleman who bought it when the original Doisy estate was split up in the 19th century. Doisy-Daëne was extended in the 1950s, with the purchase of a parcel of vines that came from what is now Château Doisy-Dubroca, and there are now 15 hectares of vineyards planted with 70% Sémillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadelle.
The property is owned by Denis Dubourdieu, a legendary figure in Bordeaux wine circles, especially for the way in which he has revitalised the reputation of the region’s dry white wines. As a world-renowned oenologist Denis consults widely for other white wine producers, understandably as he carries the title of Professor of the Faculty of Oenology at Bordeaux University, and, with his son Fabrice, has taken Doisy-Daëne to new heights of excellence.
It is the estate’s sweet wine which receives most global acclaim; Doisy-Daëne produces quintessential Barsacs with the emphasis on finesse, poise and elegance, rather than power and force. The wines from the best vintages can age gracefully for up to 20 years. Doisy-Daëne is classified as a Sauternes 2ème Cru Classé.
A very good dry white wine is also produced, made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are fermented in new oak barrels and then aged in wood for a further 15 months before bottling. Only about 2,500 cases are made annually and the dry wine has to be labelled simply as Bordeaux Blanc, although in quality terms it matches up to many of the better dry whites from the Graves appellation.
The grapes are picked in successive "tries" and are then pressed with the juice being fermented in oak casks (one third new) and then remaining in cask for another 18-24 months.
The blend used for White Graves and Sauternes and rarely encountered outside France. In the great dry whites of Graves, Sauvignon Blanc tends to predominate in the blend, although properties such as Smith Haut Lafite use 100% Sauvignon Blanc while others such as Laville Haut Brion have as much as 60% Sémillon in their final blends. Sauvignon Blanc wines can lose their freshness and fruit after a couple of years in bottle - if blended with Sémillon, then the latter bolsters the wine when the initial fruit from the Sauvignon fades. Ultimately Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine its aroma and raciness while Sémillon gives it backbone and longevity.
In Sauternes, Sémillon is dominant, with Sauvignon Blanc playing a supporting role - it is generally harvested about 10 days before Sémillon and the botrytis concentrates its sweetness and dampens Sauvignon Blanc`s naturally pungent aroma. It contributes acidity, zip and freshness to Sauternes and is an important component of the blend.
Barsac is one of the communes of the Sauternes appellation (along with Bommes, Fargues, Preignac and Sauternes itself). With marginally flatter land and soils of red sand and light gravels, the commune adjoins the northern boundary of the commune of Sauternes, separated by the Ciron River, whose cold waters are so instrumental in producing the region's necessary autumn fogs.
There are just over 800 hectares under vine, producing nearly two million bottles in an average year. The châteaux can choose to sell their wine under either the Sauternes or the Barsac appellation, but stylistically the wines are arguably a little lighter in style than those of Sauternes.
The leading producers are Châteaux Climens and Coutet, with Châteaux Nairac, Doisy-Daëne and Doisy-Vedrines making good value, attractive wines.