In the case of the production of certain sweet wines (such as the sweet Sauternes, Port and Tokay) the fermentation only proceeds up to a certain extent.
Among the white wines we have the full sweet Sauternes, the relatively dry and elegant Graves and Chablis, and the light white wines which produce champagne and brandy.
The Gironde viticultural region is divided into six main districts, namely, Medoc, Sauternes, Graves, Cotes, Entre-deux-Mers and Palus.
The district of Sauternes produces the finest white wines of the Gironde, one might say of the whole of France.
Whereas the white wines of the Graves are on the whole fairly dry and light in character, the white wines of Sauternes are full and sweet, with a very fine characteristic bouquet.
The district of Sauternes covers the communes of Sauternes, Bommes and a part of Barsac, Preignac, Fargues and St Pierre-de-Mops.
This alone, however, does not account for the peculiar character of the Sauternes, for during the latter period of ripening a specific microorganism termed Botrytis cinerea develops on the grape, causing a peculiar condition termed pourriture noble (German Edelfaule), which appears to be responsible for the remarkable bouquet observed in the wines.
The musts from which the Sauternes wines are made are so concentrated that only a part of the sugar is transformed into alcohol, an appreciable portion remaining unfermented.
The Sauternes generally are full-bodied wines, very luscious and yet delicate; they possess a special seve, or, in other words, that special taste which, while it remains in the mouth, leaves the palate perfectly fresh.
The finer growths of the Sauternes are classified in much the same way as the red wines of the Medoc. There are two main growths, the wines being as follows: - Classification Of Sauternes Grand First Growth.
The production of the Sauternes vineyards is, as a rule, smaller than that of the chief red growths, and in consequence of this, and that the district is a relatively small one, the prices of the finer growths are often very high.
The finest varieties of Tokay are made entirely or mainly from Furmint grapes which have been allowed to become over-ripe in a manner somewhat similar to that obtaining in the Sauternes districts.
Riesling, Hermitage, Sauternes, Chianti, &c., in accordance with the district of origin of the vine.
Some resembling French Sauternes and Chablis and others the wines of the Rhine.