Sauternes time at Snobby’s in Bristol just before Christmas
Something is rotten in Bordeaux, and it’s not the botrytis. The Times today reports that Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces, doyen of the Château d’Yquem dynasty, is aghast at the “arrogance” of fellow Sauternes producers promoting the sweet wine as a cocktail mixer.
“Our wine is like an exceptional watch, a rare jewel, caviar, it is arrogant to pretend that you can improve our wine,” he protests.
The premise of Sauternes producers like Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey is adding the wine to cocktails introduces it to a wider markets of consumers. Their director David Bolzan says, “We are not doing this to improve the wine but to make its image more accessible.”
Sauternes sales have been falling but is this the way to reverse that downward trend? Who is right? I asked my colleague in Scotland, far better versed in matters like this, Chris McDiarmid.
“ Looking at what's trending in cocktails it's not really meshing. I think what’s happening out there is less about premium ingredients such as Sauternes and more about local and sustainable ingredients. So foraged stuff made into a tincture.”
But there must be some places that want to swirl some Sauternes into their latest cocktail? A premium up-sell?
“Maybe if you’re the American Bar at the Savoy, or another place that relies on history or another angle like that,” Chris reckons.
“However as a cocktail ingredient it's just too expensive and has too short a shelf life.”
So if not Sauternes, what is wine’s role for trendsetting mixologists?
“In terms of wine adds in cocktails, wine on draft and fortified are where it's at. Both don't go off in the same way, and can be added to a serve without the price getting crazy. Sauternes in a long drink? Ace. But not if I'm paying crazy money for it. Sherry or Ratafia in a cocktail on the other hand... That's another game all together.”
Hold the Haut-Bergeron, Mar 7 and David Levasseur’s Ratafia it is then.