The fact that Loupiac is still largely unknown to consumers outside of the European market is the only reason today’s wine doesn’t have an extra digit in its price. Sourced from nearly century-old vines, Dauphiné-Rondillon's “Cuvée d'Or” is an elegant, densely concentrated sweet wine that evokes memories of none other than d’Yquem Sauternes itself. I know it’s hard to believe that statement at this price, but just try it and you will understand my point. It will surely impress your friends and family after a rewarding dinner, all of whom will be scratching their heads in awe after its $29 price tag is revealed.
A bottle of the Darriet family’s Dauphiné-Rondillon holds a plethora of history—eight generations worth. The very first production of noble rot (botrytised) wines at this Loupiac château can be attributed to Alfred Darriet in 1798. As they continued growing and acquiring key properties in the 1800’s, Monsiuer Jean Darriet made the leap in 1927 and began bottling at the domaine instead of the industry norm of selling bulk wine via barrel. Following the change, it wasn’t long until success poured in – their wine was even featured next to Château d'Yquem during an honorary lunch for Queen Juliana of the Netherlands! Today, the château is run by brother and sister Jean-Christophe Darriet and Sandrine Darriet Froléon, who are also assisted by a third sibling, Philippe Darriet, a distinguished enology professor at the nearby University of Bordeaux.
The Darriet family are huge advocates for sustainability in the vineyard and have been since the 1950s—they currently hold an impressive level 3 certification from the EU. The grapes for “Cuvée d'Or” come from the family’s nine-hectare vineyard planted in gravelly, clay-chalk soils on a high plateau. A relatively new addition for historic Bordeaux, the tiny appellation of Loupiac was created in 1936 and it isn’t uncommon to see vines of that age and beyond (today’s bottling comes from vines planted between 1915 and 1935). Upon harvest, the botrytis-affected grapes are picked only when sugars have become extremely concentrated, which requires multiple passes through the vineyard—for them, a minimum of five passes over six weeks’ time. Barrel-fermentation is triggered by native yeasts and aged for 18 months in French oak (10% new) and the final assemblage is predominantly Sémillon rounded out with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Production is severely limited.
In the glass, “Cuvée d'Or” is highly concentrated and viscous. The wine glows with a deeply brilliant, dark yellow core and flashes of gold along the rim. Aromas burst out as the wine opens: ultra-ripe quince, apricot, candied peach, dried pineapple, honeycomb, saffron, orange marmalade, and slight spice are all these complex flavors carry through on the palate. Dense and full-bodied, the wine coats your mouth with immense richness, but ample acidity keeps it lively through and through. There is never a sense of feeling “weighed down.” This is a perfectly mature wine that will age effortlessly over the next 10-20 years and will easily last for weeks on end after opening (re-insert cork and keep in fridge). I recommend you heading to your nearest specialty store and buying their best Roquefort, some high quality butter and a fresh baguette. Simply put a nice slather of room-temp butter on the bread, add a touch of Roquefort, then have with this wine. Trust me on this. There’s no better way to indulge. Cheers!