Château de Fargues, known as "poor man's d'Yquem", produces stunning sweet wines and is a fine proof that there also is a world outside the classified growths in Bordeaux.
Lur Saluces family has owned château de Fargues since 1472. In the 18th and 19th century the Lur Saluces family owned several properties in Sauternes and Barsac, like Coutet, Filhot, de Malle and especially d'Yquem. Knowing how to produce sweet wine at these properties made Marquis Bertrand de Lur Saluces decide in the late 1930s that sweet wine would also be produced instead of red wine at de Fargues. The first vintage of de Fargues in sweet version was 1943.
For many years, the present owner of de Fargues, Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces, took care of both d'Yquem and de Fargues. But after d'Yquem changed hands in the late 1990s, Count Lur Saluces said farewell to d'Yquem in May 2004 – and has consequently been able to concentrate 100 % about de Fargues. Big investments in new wine facilities and general property modernization have resulted in de Fargues being top-tuned.
De Fargues is situated in the southeastern corner of Bordeaux, more precisely in Fargues commune in the southern outskirts of Sauternes & Barsac districts. The site's name is Fargues-Le-Collen, and de Fargues is placed on a bit of hill with a glorious view over the countryside. In addition to wine production, de Fargues has a big production of sweet corn, which is used as fodder for property cattle of the famous race Bazas. There is also a big grass area, and de Fargues owns a forest of more than 100 ha.
Its vineyard is 15 ha, and vines grow on gravelly soil with subsoil consisting of small stones and clay. The cépage is 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, and wines are on average 35 years old. Yield per ha accounts for nine hl, and de Fargues is kept in 100% new barrels for 36 months.
Only grapes with sugar content corresponding to a minimum of 20 grades of potential alcohol (app. 340-350 g sugar per litre) are harvested. If the particular vintage can't deliver that, all the production is declassified. Techniques that help increase alcohol content in the must, such as "chaptalization" and "cryo-extraction", are forbidden to use at de Fargues. And there is no filtration of wine here.
De Fargues resembles a lot concerning style, compared with its famous "big brother" (d'Yquem), but costs only 1/3 of the price of d'Yquem. At its best, de Fargues is multidimensional wine with exceptional botrytis, breathtaking concentration and fascinating richness – and can easily match d'Yquem all the way.
No 2012 Fargues was produced as the quality of the grapes harvested (too low sugar content) wasn't considered worth Grand Vin.
2020 de Fargues (barrel sample) 95-96p
Tasted in November 2021. 80% Semillon + 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Difficult weather conditions with hot weather and rain in September and October. Only three tries resulted in the production of 6hl/ha, of which less than half was worth the standards of the property. Anyway, what had been produced, was of excellent quality. Guava, mango and pineapple. Elegant, vibrant, great acidity, refined. Heather honey finish. Superb effort.
2019 de Fargues 97p
Tasted in November 2021. Lots of botrytized flavours, especially almonds, orange peel, mandarines and clementines, citrus and heather honey. Hugely intense, sophisticated and had great acidity to match the sweetness. Long and luscious finish. It was a proper cracker of the wine and so stunning for the vintage.
2018 de Fargues 93p
Tasted in November 2021. Hail in July didn't do any good for the grapes, and harvest started late because botrytis began its work for real in mid-October. Strict sorting of grapes was necessary. It had a nose of pineapple, citrus and some almonds. Lighter in intensity and concentration than 2019 and 2017. Very approachable right now.
2017 de Fargues 96p
Tasted twice - last time in November 2021. Consistent notes. Unctuous, very rich and with outstanding freshness and acidity. Remarkable sweetness and a lot of botrytized flavours like honey melon and guava. Long and creamy on the finish. Excellent effort.
2016 de Fargues 94-95p
Tasted twice - last time in November 2021. Consistent notes. This wine showed fine intensity, complexity, sweetness, concentration, and length. Fine acidity. Refined and elegant. Long honeyed finish. Splendid effort.
2015 de Fargues 95+p
Tasted twice - last time in November 2021. Consistent notes. Was distinct on the nose with sweet pineapple, grapefruit, and almonds. The palate had great acidity, complexity, structure, and length, and it finished with acacia honey flavour. Very successful for the vintage.
2014 de Fargues (barrel sample) 95-96p
Tasted in March 2015. Botrytized flavours of pineapple and peach, excellent acidity, rich and sophisticated, great complexity and length. Utterly impressive effort for the vintage.
2013 de Fargues (barrel sample) 94+p
Tasted in March 2014. Delicate botrytized flavours, concentrated, lot of nuances, great acidity and structure. Refined and with great finesse. Long honeyed aftertaste. Stupendous effort.
2011 de Fargues 95+p
Tasted twice - last time in March 2015. Consistent notes. It had extremely intense acacia honey and apricot nose, a strong and full-bodied palate, and excellent acidity and balance. Killer wine.
2010 de Fargues (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2011. Not consistent notes. The barrel sample at the property was better than the one tasted at UGC tasting. This wine had an intense nose of grapefruit, acacia honey and apricot, a strong and full-bodied palate, excellent acidity and balance. Marvellous effort.
2009 de Fargues (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted in March 2010. Great intensity of beautifully botrytized flavours, wonderful balance and sophisticated touch. Exquisite sweetness and acidity. Extremely long on the palate with an exquisite honeyed aftertaste.
2008 de Fargues (barrel sample) 92-95p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2009. Not consistent notes. Acidity in this wine matched fruit sweetness perfectly. This was a wine with a lovely structure and great style.
2007 de Fargues 97p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2011. Consistent notes. This wine was somewhat closed and showed only some moments of its fine quality during primeur tasting in April 2008. I bet, however it will vastly improve when in the bottle. And it certainly did! It displayed the great intensity of botrytized flavours like sweet pineapple, mango and honey melon, stunning acidity and elegance, sophisticated touch and long honeyed aftertaste. Stunning wine.
2006 de Fargues 93p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2011. Consistent notes. This wine had intense noble rot, citrus peel, pear and acacia honey everywhere, intense on the palate with stunning balance. Great effort.
2005 de Fargues 98p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2011. Consistent notes. It was an easy harvest with only 5 "tries" in the vineyard. Grapes picked were simply of heavenly quality that almost everything went into Grand Vin. Pale yellow. Botrytis here was simply extraordinary with fantastic depth and intensity. Powerful aromas of orange, mandarins and apricots were whirling around. This wine showed an enormous sweetness, ideally supported by fresh acidity. Its incredible richness, extremely sophisticated style and impressive length completed this beauty. When tasted in April 2011, it had a significant and catchy aroma of almonds both on the nose and palate.
2004 de Fargues (barrel sample) 90+p
Tasted in April 2005. Unstable weather during summer with hail and long harvest with the outbreak of sour botrytis made it challenging to produce a wine, which could live up to standards at de Fargues. However, there was intense noble rot, finesse and elegance, nuances, and a pleasant aftertaste. But hardly an exceptional vintage because it lacked concentration and length when tasted. We hope it will improve when in the bottle.
2003 de Fargues 97p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2011. Consistent notes. Extremely powerful and intense on the nose with grilled/smoked aromas of nuts, mango, guava, honey melon and dried apricots. Opulent, strong and deep on the palate with fabulous sweetness and corresponding acidity. Staggering length on the palate and long honeyed aftertaste. I love this vintage!
2002 de Fargues 92p
Tasted in April 2006. Late harvest – finished the 1st November. Pale golden. Splendid and well-defined botrytis. There was acacia honey on the nose plus oranges, apricots and citrus/orange peel. Very elegant, refined, rich and with a soft finish. This is a great wine for the vintage and can further improve in 10-15 years.
2001 de Fargues 2001 99p
Tasted three times - last time in April 2011. Consistent notes. This wine had a sublime and fascinating noble rot with incredible intensity and fabulous sweetness. What a complex and multidimensional nose of créme brulée, candied orange peel and créme caramel. The same on the palate. Unbelievable richness, length and aftertaste. This is heaven!
1999 de Fargues 90p
Tasted in April 2006. Golden. Fine and well-developed botrytis. The aroma of citrus, citrus peel and dry apricots on the nose. Acidity in this wine matched fruit perfectly, so balance was intact and assured long life. An elegant and lighter version of de Fargues should be enjoyed in the next ten years.
1998 de Fargues 92p
Tasted in March 2003. This vintage is generally better than 1999 in Sauternes & Barsac, concerning the quality of noble rot and fruit concentration. That's also the case at Fargues, who produced an incredibly well-balanced, complex and beautifully structured wine. Keep it for additional 10-15 years.
1997 de Fargues 96p
This wine has always been among my all-time favourites and makes my knees soft every time I taste it (March 2003, May 2005, April 2006, April 2007 and April 2008). Dark golden. Incredibly deep and well-defined botrytis, strong aroma of heather honey, orange peel and candied apricots. Big concentration, enormous richness and impressive length on the palate, and fabulous marriage between sweetness and acidity make this wine extraordinary. It will be an astonishing enjoyment in the next 15-20 years.
1996 de Fargues 95p
Tasted twice - last time in May 2005. Consistent notes. It's barely so exquisitely botrytized, intense and luscious as 1997, but it still shows tremendously high quality. All ingredients in this wine play beautifully together, and this wine's force lies in its many facets, perfect balance and persistent aftertaste. Complete and mighty wine, which cries for 12-18 years more in the cellar.
1990 de Fargues 93p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2006. Consistent notes. In March 2003, it had aromas and tasted of super concentrated acacia honey, was quite rich in alcohol and had fabulous botrytis, big complexity and long aftertaste. Was as formidable in April 2006 with an unmistakable aroma of walnut crème and brown sugar on the palate. Will easily keep for additional 10 -15 years.
1988 de Fargues 94p
Tasted in April 2008. This was a pure class - sophisticated wine with a delicious sweetness and acidity, mandarine/candied orange peel and honey melon flavours. A real beauty for keeping in another 5-10 years.
1986 de Fargues93p
Tasted in April 2006. Golden brown. Seemed fresher on the nose and the palate than in 1990. Sublime and well-composed noble rot, candied citrus/orange peel on the nose and palate, plus the aroma of caramel pudding and figs. Both sweetness and acidity here have a perfect hold of things, resulting in excellent balance. Full-bodied and intense. Dazzlingly superb and lovely wine, which still "looks" young at 20 years of age, and I bet that it can keep for 6-8 years more.
1983 de Fargues 92p
Tasted in April 2006. Raw yellow. It showed impressive botrytis but was a bit acidic on the nose and palate with bitter orange/citrus peel aroma. Full-bodied with the big richness of nuances and extremely long aftertaste. A mistake from consulting an oenologist concerning the measure of sugar content in grapes resulted in grapes being harvested a little too early, which meant less sweetness in the wine. Despite this, this vintage is a great success for de Fargues, and it can be put down for additional 4-6 years.
1970 de Fargues 91p
Tasted in April 2006. Yellow-brown. This wine reminded me of 1983, but the acidity here was barely so delicate and well integrated. Had its peak several years ago.
1947 de Fargues 100p
Tasted in April 2006. Golden brown. Noble rot of aristocratic kind with extraordinary depth and intensity. Manifold nose of candied tropical fruits and oranges, apricots and rasp honey. Mega long and incredibly sophisticated taste with honeyed consistency, perfect balance and an aftertaste, which refused to end. It was a monumental wine, which rightfully can be called "Nectar of Gods". Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces feels that this wine can easily keep for another half a century, and I tend to agree with him. It was an unforgettable show-stopper for the tasting!