Olivier Borneuf and his first World Sauternes Day

A whole day dedicated to this great wine, with a global webinar exploring its qualities and versatility

06-07-2020
A collage of photos of some of the many participan

A collage of photos of some of the many participants in the World Sauternes Day

It was Olivier Borneuf, French critic with two decades of experience in the wine industry, from production to consultancy and training, in France and abroad, who got the idea for this summit. A great connoisseur of the Champagne region, he’s one of the top tasters for the historic guide Bettane & Dessauve, and he’s also the co-founder of the Paris Academy of WineOlivier made a dream come true: to celebrate Sauternes throughout an entire day.

It was the first time ever that the entire world could participate in the richest webinar of the last few months. Borneuf invited producers, chefs, bartenders in three sessions presenting the best vintages paired with the virtual culinary creations of chef Jérome Schilling, executive chef at restaurant Lalique Relais & Châteaux in Bommes, and then revealed the magic of the noble rot of the Sauternais region, finishing with a cocktail session in which Sauternes was an ingredient in the creations of some of the greatest French bartenders.

Olivier Borneuf

Olivier Borneuf

Indeed, the “à table” session, challenged French culinary traditions and the Sauternes - Foie gras cliché, and presented unusual food pairings. One above all, Château Gillette 1999 paired with lamb roast and spicy couscous, to balance the sapid and minty notes of Julie Gonet-Médeville’s Sauternes. She said: «Our long refining in cement for twenty years creates wines that are very difficult to pair».

Château Gillette 1999

Château Gillette 1999

Even Aline Baly of Château Coutet, young producer from Barsac says: «Today people are divided as to how to drink Sauternes, between those who don’t want to abandon strict tradition, and those who want to make it current. Younger generations like my own, are particularly open to a modern vision of this sweet wine. My family and I are convinced that one does not exclude the other. There are no millennial rules and, if the ingredient of a great cocktail is a great Sauternes, why not?».

Indeed, for a few summers now they have also launched Sweetz, a fusion of Sauternes and Spritz, a refreshing cocktail with a base of sparkling wine mixed with a part of Sauternes, ice and orange zest.

Philippe, Aline and Dominique Baly

Philippe, Aline and Dominique Baly

In mid-April, Olivier was involved in a lively online debate on the current image of Sauternes. Some of his colleagues supported extreme tradition, with no possibility of dialogue with the new generations. The French critic stressed the need to introduce this product that has no equal in the world even through the young vignerons who represent the future.

Sauternes (photo Brambilla Serrani)

Sauternes (photo Brambilla Serrani)

«Sauternes is for me a unique wine – Borneuf says – a product that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. There’s balance, pureness, and we must present it to young people to push away their preconceptions on this sweet but absolutely enjoyable dessert wine. Noble rot creates this marvellous product and global warming for now is positive. Hence the idea of dedicating, on May 1st, an entire day to Sauternes. I would like to point out that I have the utmost respect for history and tradition. I have walked down the vineyards of Sauternes for many years, I appreciate the purity of what nature can produce. At the same time, I believe young people have a very dusty image of this nectar. With this very successful day I presented, through some local producers, a versatile wine in terms of culinary pairings, highlighting its unique features through a play of service temperatures, pairings with different courses and cocktails”.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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