The Sweet Wines of Cérons & Saint-Macaire

  • By Jacky Blisson MW
  • 25 Nov 2020
  • 5 MIN
  • Level 201
Made possible by
Saint-Macaire - Credit : Sweet Bordeaux

Cérons and Saint-Macaire are situated on opposite sides of the Garonne river. These two vineyards vary greatly in terms of terroir, however they are similar in that they both sit slightly apart from other clusters of sweet wine-producing vineyard regions. They are also equally diminutive in terms of production levels, making them less readily available. 

Cérons AOP

Cérons is an enclave within the Graves appellation, on the left bank of the Garonne river, due north of Barsac and Sauternes. Just 23 hectares of vines are planted in mainly silty gravel soils overlying limestone bedrock. The terrain is relatively flat causing mists to dissipate more quickly than in hillier areas. Botrytis levels vary depending on the growing year and vineyard site.

Appellation rules stipulate that the wines must be late harvested, in successive passes, when they reach a minimum must weight of 221 grams/litre (g/l). Must weight is a typical way to measure sugar content, and thus ripeness, in wine grapes. The must weight requirements for these late harvested wines are far higher than those necessary for dry white wines. 

Yield levels are restricted to a maximum of 40 hectolitre/hectare (hl/ha) to produce smaller crops of more concentrated, complex fruit. Typical Cérons blends feature 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. According to the Vins de Bordeaux, Cérons is known for its complex aromatics, full body, bright fruit, and balanced sweetness of roughly 30 to 45 g/l.

Notable Producers

  • Château de Cérons
  • Château Galant
  • Château du Seuil
  • Château L'Orée de Bel Air

Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire AOP 

A mere 35 hectares of Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire vineyards perch above a bend in the Garonne river, where it travels due east for a stretch before continuing its southeastward journey to the Bay of Biscay. This hilly area is composed of chalky clay and sandy clay slopes over a limestone bedrock. Three styles of wines are crafted here: sec (dry), moelleux (semi-sweet), and liquoreux (sweet to very sweet). 

The sweet wines must be hand harvested, in successive passes, just as in Cérons. The minimum must weight at harvest is equivalent for the moelleux category (namely 221g/L) and higher for the liquoreux tier: 255g/L. This reflects the more concentrated levels of Botrytis seen in Saint-Macaire liquoreux wines. Sémillon often accounts for 90% of blends, with small amounts of Sauvignon and Muscadelle. Vins de Bordeaux describes the dessert wines produced here as refined, supple, and rich. The moelleux wines have moderate sweetness levels up to 45 g/l of residual sugar, while the liquoreux wines start at 45 g/l; the majority being lusciously sweet (well over this lower residual sugar limit). 

Notable Producers

  • Château de Bouillerot
  • Château de Cappes
  • Château Gayon
  • Château Majoureau

 

 

Saint-Macaire - Credit : Sweet Bordeaux