Variety: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle
Meeting owner and winemaker Hervé Dubourdieu is almost like meeting a surgeon. Dressed to perfection and walking with confidence, his estate is located in the southern end of the famed Bordeaux wine region in Haut Barsac, famous for white wine, and more famous for dessert wine made from the noble mold, botrytis. I remember walking around the winery and feeling that if I put on a white glove I would not find a spec of dust, let alone dirt, anywhere in the winery. This cleanliness shows up in the wines. Always pristine and focused, the aromatics are fresh and the palate clean. The dessert wines produced here are what many of the estates in Barsac and neighboring village of Sauternes focus on. When a vineyard does not obtain the noble rot and the airflow is just too much to create the famous mold, it is still perfect to produce dry, fresh white wine blended with Sémillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc. No oak is used in the winemaking, and flavors of citrus and grass come through. Due to the river emptying into the Atlantic and the humid air blowing inland down into the vineyards, the wines are incredible with light seafood salads or simple preparations that highlight lemon.
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Hervé Dubourdieu's easy charm and modest disposition are complemented by his focus and ferocious perfectionism. He prefers to keep to himself, spending most of his time with his family in his modest, tasteful home, surrounded by his vineyards in the Sauternes and Graves appellations. Roûmieu-Lacoste, situated in Haut Barsac, originates from his mother's side of the family, dating back to 1890. He also owns Château Graville-Lacoste and Château Ducasse, where he grows grapes for his Graves Blanc and Bordeaux Blanc, respectively. In the words of Dixon Brooke, "Hervé is as meticulous a person as I have encountered in France's vineyards and wineries. Everything is kept in absolutely perfect condition, and the wines showcase the results of this care – impeccable." Hervé is incredibly hard on himself. Despite the pedigree and complexity of the terroir and the quality of the wines, he has never been quite satisfied to rest on his laurels, always striving to outdo himself. This is most evident in his grape-sorting process for the Sauternes. Since botrytis is paramount to making great Sauternes, he employs the best harvesters available, paying them double the average wage to discern between the "noble rot," necessary to concentrate the sugars for Sauternes, and deleterious rot. Hervé is so fastidious that he will get rid of a whole basket of fruit if a single grape with the harmful rot makes it in with healthy ones to be absolutely sure to avoid even the slightest contamination. Another thing that we love about Hervé is that he would rather entrust the selling to us than be away from his vines, so he lets us buy the lion's share of his production. This is an important factor in keeping wine of this quality at so low a price.