Extérieur is a high powered, full bodied, dry white composed of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. Lime, lemon, grapefruit citrus zest and a complex minerality are primary aromas and flavors at this time with potential for greater development. Vibrant and fresh acidity extend this wine’s very long finish. Enjoyable now, but will be really “show off” with a few more years of cellaring. A true bargain when compared to the pricey whites of nearby Graves.
The grapes are sourced from organically farmed 40 year old vines spanning a total of 5 acres from parcels in Barsac (sand, decomposed limestone), Entre-Deux-Mers (clay, limestone), Côte-de-Franc (clay, limestone). All of the harvest is hand picked in numerous passes, and rigorously sorted. The grapes are slowing and gently pressed pneumatically. The wine is barrel fermented with natural yeast in a minimum of thrice used French oak and then aged sur lie with regular stirring on the lees for a year before bottling.
Valerie and Daniel Alibrand are relatively new to wine, having started Domaine de l’Alliance in 2005, upon the purchase of the vines from Valérie’s side of the family. Although Daniel had been an Atlantic fisherman by trade, the two jumped at the opportunity to start their new vocation in Valérie’s hometown. Such a leap of faith has not been without its struggles, however the Alibrands have been attracting quite a bit of attention for such newcomers. They farm seven hectares of vineyards in the village of Fargues, known for the eponymous and prestigious wine château to which their land runs adjacent. They are fortunate to have old vines, which impart fabulous complexity to the wine, although it means lower yields than are the norm for Sauternes. (The yields for Sauternes average around 25 hectolitres per hectare, however the Alibrands’ vines only get 10-13, like Yquem!) They started farming in lutte raisonnée but have recently begun the three-year conversion process to have their vineyards certified as organic. Alliance refers to the marriage between man and nature, a fitting homage to this decision, and the salamander on the label pays tribute to the many they regularly find in their vineyard.