Having presented Bordeaux's reds with a fair share of difficulties, the 2011 harvest has been surprising and somewhat challenging for Sauternes as well, it seems. Decanter reported yesterday that the Sauternes harvest is one of the earliest in memory and that the region has not been immune to uneven ripening – a problem across Bordeaux. Nonetheless, the outlook is positive, with one vigneron even suggesting that 2011 may be a "great" vintage.
Sauternes is always an interesting proposition for traders as the region offers a host of sweet buying opportunities. Bordeaux whites have not yet benefited from the same level of demand as their red cousins. And with the current economic climate prompting buyers to spread their nets in search of value, Sauternes is certainly an attractive option.
Both Yquem and Rieussec (of the Lafite stable) offer particularly strong value for money. Older, highly rated vintages of Yquem – the indisputable king of Sauternes – have edged upwards in price over the last year. Nonetheless, there is still considerable room for growth. Yquem 1996 and 1997, for example, can be had for under £2,000 per case, whilst the 1990 (said to be one of the chateau's greatest ever vintages) is trading at around £3,300.
For those with less to spend, Rieussec 2007 and 2010 are offered on Liv-ex at just £370 and £240 respectively. Each year, merchants acquire countless cases of Rieussec in a race to secure allocations of Lafite. They then unbundle their stock on the secondary market, thus depressing prices. (Bad for the brand, perhaps, but good news for bargain hunters.) Liv-ex trading members can view live markets here.