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We Try an Older Sauternes: 1983 Chateau Filhot


Chateau Filhot, Image from tourismegironde (flickr)

Chateau Filhot is an old and large estate.  When Henri de Vaucelles took control of the estate in 1974 he began the process of replanting the vineyards and renovating the winery.  It is during this transition that this half-bottle from 1983 was produced.  At the time the wines were both fermented and aged in fiberglass vats.  It was not until 1995 that the fiberglass fermentation vats were removed and replaced with stainless steel.  The fruit was then fermented in stainless steel followed by aging in wood.  This was an interesting Sauternes to taste.  The texture of the wine is young but the flavors are very mature, having become primarily that of spiced apple cider.  Drunk alone it was not compelling enough to finish the half-bottle in one night.  I would rather have this with a little bit of food, perhaps a tart, to best complement the wine.  I find the flavors on the down-slope of maturity but I imagine properly cellared bottles will last for many years to come.  I also suspect that many of my Sauternes age estimates are off by one or two decades!  Please read Chris Kissack’s producer profile for further background information and tasting notes on recent vintages.  This half-bottle was purchased at MacArthur Beverages where it was cellared since release.

1983 Chateau Filhot, Sauternes – (375mL)
Imported by Majestic Wine & Spirit Inc.  This wine is a blend sourced from vineyards planted with 60% Semillon, 37% Sauvignon, and 3% Muscadelle.  The 60 hectare vineyard averaged 20 years of age at the time.  This wine was fermented and aged entirely in fiberglass vats.  The color is a light+ amber brown.  The initial nose is light eventually revealing spiced apple cider.  One first notices the good but moderate mouthfeel which remained throughout as flavors of peach and apricot mix with apple-cider acidity.  There is not much botrytis, instead there are initial dried floral flavors which are a little racy.  The spices expand as tart apple flavors come out in the fresh middle.  There are sweet spices in the aftertaste.  On the second night the spiced apple cider flavor dominates a subtle apricot note. ** Now.

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