Battle of the PDOs: Sauternes vs Moulis-en-Médoc
Bordeaux Magazine US
May 17, 2024

Battle of the PDOs: Sauternes vs Moulis-en-Médoc

Welcome to a top match! On my right, the Sauternes PDO, represented by Emilie, winegrower at Château de Veyres: 1.6 hectares producing irresistible sweet white wines. On my left, the Moulis-en-Médoc PDO, led by Sofia, cellarmaster at Château Anthonic: 607 hectares producing captivating dry red wines. To win over your hearts and surprise you with every bottle, these two Bordeaux appellations boast many qualities. Here is the proof, in 3 tight-knit rounds

Setting the scene: family estates vs wild landscapes

We’ll begin our journey southeast of Bordeaux. This is where you will find Sauternes, between two major waterways: the Garonne and the Ciron (we’ll come back to this later). In this highly distinctive vineyard, the grapes ripen near thousand-year-old forests. And as for winegrowers, there is a strong family spirit! Here, we live and work on the land. What’s more, these family estates don’t only grow vines, they also open their doors to warmly welcome visitors. You will feel right at home… although it is already time to resume our exploration!

Let’s head northwest of Bordeaux to Moulis-en-Médoc. Both close by and off the beaten track, this appellation is located at the gateway to the Médoc peninsula: an area reminiscent of the end of the earth, nestled between the Gironde Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. This wild landscape offers an invigorating getaway! Here you will find relaxed open-air cafés known as “guinguettes” and small markets. You may also take the time to meet an eclectic mix of winegrowers whose pioneering spirit has become their trademark!

Focus on the grapes: optimum ripeness or over-ripeness, that is the question!

If there was one word to sum up Sauternes, it would be Botrytis cinerea. This fungus is literally its treasure! It shows its face on autumn grapes when the Ciron River drapes the vines in morning fog. Under the effects of this noble rot, the berries become dehydrated, then concentrated in sugar and aromas. To harvest the Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes that thus achieve over-ripeness, there is only one philosophy: striving for excellence. Because everything is done by hand, in successive passes. But it’s really worth it!

On the other side of the Bordeaux vineyards, the Holy Grail in Moulis-en-Médoc lies in the optimum ripeness of the grapes. Why? For the simple reason that this is how Cabernet Sauvignon expresses its full potential. This red grape variety is in fact the king of the vineyards in this PDO. Like its sidekick Merlot, it thrives on these soils where it is deeply-rooted. Because while Moulis-en-Médoc is the smallest of the Médoc appellations, it is packed with all the region’s outstanding terroirs. On top of this, precise expertise which lets time work its magic helps produce wines that are stars in their own right…

In the glass, a Clásico game: sweet white wines vs dry red wines

Let’s move onto the serious stuff: tasting! When you think of Sauternes, round and sun-drenched sweet white wines come to mind. Botrytis cinerea provides an incredible range of delicate candied fruit and refreshing citrus aromas which last an incredibly long time on the palate… In short, a luscious wine full of personality which wonderfully lends itself to informal get-togethers and delicious creative experiences. What’s more, when you close your eyes, you can just picture it: a rooftop on the Basque coast, sunshine, good friends, and a well-chilled Sauternes in hand!

What about dry red wines from the Moulis-en-Médoc appellation? From harmony to generosity, they can be enjoyed in their youth but are equally worth the wait. On the one hand, they boast the tannic strength and sensual sophistication of Cabernet Sauvignon, balanced out by the freshness and fruity roundness of Merlot on the other hand. This charming duo will make you feel like you are in Rome, strolling along the paved streets… An air of the dolce vita that you just can’t get enough of!

The final whistle has been blown, it’s the end of the match! So, Sauternes or Moulis-en-Médoc, what do your taste buds fancy the most? And if you want to discover other delicious wine comparisons, like a Côtes de Bourg vs a flavourful Canon-Fronsac, join the Bordeaux Crew now on our social media!


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