Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

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Mark Y
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Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#1 Post by Mark Y » December 1st, 2018, 12:04 pm

More general question - No specific bottles in mind.

Young or old make a diff? Good/great/ vs Yquem producer make a diff?
Y.e.

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#2 Post by AAgrawal » December 1st, 2018, 12:18 pm

This is a good question that I don't know the answer to. I don't tend to decant my sauternes. I do tend to open them well ahead of time (a few days ahead of time to an event if they are very young and high quality) as they can improve for days to a week while young (especially some Chateau like Rieussec and Yquem). Some medium-aged Sauternes also benefit from a lot of air (2001 Suduiraut still needs at least a day or two even now).

If you didn't open them ahead of time, I imagine decanting would help. But honestly the few hours of decanting that I've tried don't seem to make much of a difference, while a day or two slow-oxing in an open bottle in the fridge often does better for me. Maybe if they need decanting it still needs to be long when young?
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#3 Post by Arv R » December 1st, 2018, 5:32 pm

We generally open them at the start of dinner, and keep them in an ice bucket.

I think temperature matters more, personally.

I know people are always trying to get these in half bottles, but they keep well enough in the fridge. You can open a 750ml on Friday night and easily enjoy a glass a night for 4-5 days without much degradation, without having to do complex stuff like Oxygen absorbing stoppers, or Coravin.
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#4 Post by maureen nelson » December 1st, 2018, 6:59 pm

Berenice Lurton told me she always decants Climens, at least 30 minutes before she wants to drink it.

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#5 Post by YLee » December 1st, 2018, 7:43 pm

I decant at least 30 mins as well. Especially if its young or very young you will need more decanting time.
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#6 Post by Oliver V » December 1st, 2018, 9:15 pm

Somebody from Ch. Guiraud once told me that decanting Sauternes was absolutely essential. Mind you they also told me that Sauternes paired excellently with a hot Thai Curry.

Shamefully, I've never tried either.
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#7 Post by Thomas De Waen » December 2nd, 2018, 6:07 am

maureen nelson wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 6:59 pm
Berenice Lurton told me she always decants Climens, at least 30 minutes before she wants to drink it.
She knows how much sulfur goes into it so no surprise ;-)

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#8 Post by etomasi » December 2nd, 2018, 6:33 am

Oliver Viveier wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 9:15 pm
Somebody from Ch. Guiraud once told me that decanting Sauternes was absolutely essential. Mind you they also told me that Sauternes paired excellently with a hot Thai Curry.

Shamefully, I've never tried either.
Well, I don't think decanting does much for Sauternes (unless its 12+hrs), but they pair really well with spicy Thai. For the Thai wine dinner we did a few weeks ago, I thought the best 2 pairings were a 1989 Weingut Karllmuhl Icewine and the 2009 Guiraud.
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Mark Y
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#9 Post by Mark Y » December 6th, 2018, 9:02 am

Great thanks for the feedback everyone.
Y.e.

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#10 Post by Mike Grammer » December 6th, 2018, 9:16 am

It *is* a good question as to whether decant vs. slow-ox (or some combination, in which case the decant part) makes a difference. I will almost invariably give any Sauternes I'm serving some kind of open time with air. I agree with my Sauternes Brother, Ashish, that even the 2001s have shown much better and more complete with a day or two of oxygenation.

One thing, Mark---I always will take a small taste right out of the bottle. I don't want to miss that impression of the wine

A "sample"--01 D'Yquem from this past May.

"2001 Chateau D'Yquem

I was going to save this for my 60th birthday some ten years down the road....but I can always source another one, and Deb [my best friend] needed the sunshine more, especially as she (nor Lynn or Jon) [other very close friends] has never had the chance to taste this. For me, I am tasting this at the end of four days' open. I poured a little off the top on day one, when it was consistent with my other bottle and showed incredible raciness and star fruit with plenty of citrus backing. Re-capped it, then left it to slow-ox for the entire 2nd day. At the end of that, some maple sap notes start to mingle in, and the citrus has swung into ascendancy. A quick sip the day before is now seeing the wine smooth out considerably. And on this night....well....the only word to use is "seamless". This wine *becomes* your mouth, coating it like a second skin. Those maple notes continue, but there's still vanilla, ginger coconut and citrus to be accounted for. The consistency in feel from the front of the mouth to the back of the throat is really remarkable. And yet, for all that, I think this is just a shade less of a bottle than my (perfect) first one. Let's say 98+ I certainly don't feel unhappy to have opened it and shared."

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#11 Post by Jeff Leve » December 6th, 2018, 9:53 am

To offer a contrary opinion, no. I never decant Sauternes. I find they do not evolve in the glass, so I find no reason to decant. Temperature is more of the key as the wines are perceptibly better with a cellar chill on them.

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#12 Post by John Morris » December 6th, 2018, 10:10 am

Jeff Leve wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 9:53 am
To offer a contrary opinion, no. I never decant Sauternes. I find they do not evolve in the glass, so I find no reason to decant. Temperature is more of the key as the wines are perceptibly better with a cellar chill on them.
But not too much. Ice bucket temperature doesn't sound ideal to me.
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#13 Post by Jeff Leve » December 6th, 2018, 10:28 am

John Morris wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 10:10 am
Jeff Leve wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 9:53 am
To offer a contrary opinion, no. I never decant Sauternes. I find they do not evolve in the glass, so I find no reason to decant. Temperature is more of the key as the wines are perceptibly better with a cellar chill on them.
But not too much. Ice bucket temperature doesn't sound ideal to me.
We agree, which I why I said "cellar chill." A chill adds freshness and lift. Too cold and the wines are tight.

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#14 Post by BobH » December 6th, 2018, 11:33 am

The owner of Maison du Sauternes told me that the best way to enjoy a Sauternes was to open it, take a taste, re cork it, and then put it back in the fridge for 2 weeks before drinking it. It does seem to help with adding complexity and 'age' the wine without oxidizing it.
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Mike Grammer
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#15 Post by Mike Grammer » December 6th, 2018, 12:20 pm

Sidebar--that place is so pretty! The inside just glows with all the yellow and orange colours. flirtysmile

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#16 Post by AAgrawal » December 6th, 2018, 2:47 pm

BobH wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 11:33 am
The owner of Maison du Sauternes told me that the best way to enjoy a Sauternes was to open it, take a taste, re cork it, and then put it back in the fridge for 2 weeks before drinking it. It does seem to help with adding complexity and 'age' the wine without oxidizing it.
Yeah, that's basically what I do, though not two weeks. I've never decanted a sauternes and thought hours later that it had changed all that much, but days in a bottle do it a lot of good.
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#17 Post by Mark Mason » December 7th, 2018, 12:11 pm

I've posted this one before, my 2001 Ch. d'Yquem.
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#18 Post by Josh Grossman » December 7th, 2018, 12:36 pm

I recently opened a 2003 Château La Tour Blanche on a romantic tryst in a cabin in the woods. I had a few other bottles open too. For some reason, the Sauternes was forgotten about and fell to the wayside of a 2012 Foursight Charles Vineyard Pinot and a J. Lassalle Champagne Premier Cru Brut Rosé. Preoccupied, I forgot to put the cork back in it before bed. I believe it was even better in the morning. A perfect pairing with melon and prosciutto, mixed berries with honey, and granola and yogurt. I've decided that young Sauternes (less than 20 years old) should be opened the night before--but are actually breakfast drinks. Does that help?

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#19 Post by Mike Maguire » December 7th, 2018, 2:32 pm

I have never decanted, I prefer to follow the wine over a few hours at varying temps.

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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#20 Post by GregT » December 8th, 2018, 1:01 pm

The main reason to decant that I can think of is because as Thomas alluded, there's a lot of sulfur in some of those wines. In the EU, for the "organic" wines, the levels are something like 100 mg/l for reds, 150 for whites and up to 220 for sweet wines. I think the limit for rosé is the same as for white but I'm not 100 pct not sure.

And given that most Sauternes doesn't claim to be organic, the limit is much higher and can be up to 400 mg/l. Sigalas does a wine that they claim to be no-sulfur, but it's not their basic sweet wine.

Sometimes sulfur aromas diminish with some air, so that can make a difference in the wine.

Other than that, I agree with the folks above who said that temperature matters more than air. As Jeff and John said - too cold just dumbs the wine, but a bit of a chill takes the cloying sweetness down.
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Re: Do Sauternes benefit from decanting?

#21 Post by François Audouze » December 9th, 2018, 10:32 am

I have always been told that Yquem is never decanted because it must shine in its bottle.
One day I saw in a popular magazine that Bernard Arnault had bought Yquem and on a double page there was a picture of him having in hand an Yquem which was in a carafe, the empty bottle was on the side.
I thought : he knows nothing.

Some months later I went to Château d'Yquem and had a lunch with Alexandre de Lur Saluces and he served a 1948 Yquem in a ugly multi faceted carafe.
It was as if I had a knife in my heart. But Alexandre is Alexandre !

Anyway even disapointed by this, I continue not to decant any Sauternes, because for me a Sauternes has never to be decanted, whatever good reasons would exist.
Sauternes is Sauternes and is not decanted.

I would say that I do the same for every old sweet wines.
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