Château Loupiac Gaudiet with Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée (#Winophiles)


I ❤️ dessert wines. I know they’re not terribly fashionable these days, but I love them.
I would love to have more people join me on this bandwagon, but if they’re just not your bag, it’s cool. More for me! 😉

Southern Bordeaux is home to some of the most celebrated and complex dessert wines around. The most famous of their sweet wine appellations is Sauternes, followed by Barsac. These wines are certainly worthy of their reputations, making particularly complex and harmonious wines, but famous names also come with high price tags. Luckily, there are several surrounding appellations that also make wines in the same style, but with prices that are more friendly to everyday enjoyment: Loupiac, Cadillac, Sainte-Crox-du-Mont, Cérons, as well the broader appellations of Premières Côtes de Bordeaux and Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire. Today we’re going to look at wine from Loupiac. 

Wines from all of the regions make wonderful pairings for cheeses and fruit desserts. They’re also famously good matches for foie gras.

Noble Rot

But what makes the wines of this region so compelling? First up, the grapes for these wines are harvested about two months after the grapes for still table wines. During this time, the grapes start to dry out on the vine, which concentrates the sugar in the grapes.   

The real secret ingredient in the sauce, though, is rot. You read that right. Rot. Specifically, the rot in question is Botrytis cinerea. Under typical conditions, when this fungus attacks the grapes on a vine, it takes over, ruins the grapes, and it’s just as nasty as you would expect rot to be. However, when the conditions are just right so that the rot grows at a slow and steady pace, and if you have certain types of grapes, something completely magical happens and heavenly flavors emerge.

Map borrowed from

This cluster of appellations in southern Bordeaux has all the right elements to pretty regularly create the magic. This is quite special as it only happens with a degree of reliability in a few places in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily happen every year either. That said, the climate here has certain important elements that lend themselves to the creation of botrytis. It tends to be foggy and misty in the mornings thanks to the Garonne River and its Ciron tributary. However, it turns sunny and warm in the afternoons, allowing the moisture on the grapes to dry a bit, slowing down the progress of the rot. The botrytis drys out the grapes, concentrating the sugars in the juice. It also changes the flavors in the grapes as well, making them more complex. The alchemy in the grapes under these conditions is so celebrated that when botrytis happens in this way, we call it “Noble Rot.” 

Picture borrowed from
Fun fact: Botrytis is also responsible for giving us Stilton!


The same key grapes are used in all of Bordeaux’s sweet appellations. Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc are the star players. Sémillon is very skinned and so particularly susceptible to botrytis. Sauvignon Blanc is also pretty susceptible to the fungus, but it has more acidity than Sémillon and adds brightness to the blend. Muscadelle is also permitted, but rarer than the others. It brings floral notes to the party. Sauvignon Gris is also allowed in some of the appellations.

The combo of the grapes, the late-harvests, and the botrytis create all kinds of wonderful flavors. You can expect a mix of stone, citrus, and tropical fruit notes along with ginger, marmalade, honeysuckle, baking spices, along with sweeter notes like butterscotch and caramel. 

Picture borrowed from


Today we’re specifically looking at Loupiac, which is located just across the Garonne river from Sauternes and Barsac. Although on the opposite bank from the more famous appellations, the conditions are still good for noble root. Loupiac’s best wines come from grapes grown on the slopes just above the banks of the river. The wines from these sections get a nice mineral character from the clay and limestone soils in these hillsides.

Loupiac is a small appellation , but they’re particularly strict in some of their quality controls. They specify higher planting densities (2024 plants per acre), and also require that grape have higher must weights before picking (245 grams per liter  for Semillon and 229g/L for Sauvignon Blanc or other grapes). Higher must weights enable higher potential sweetness levels in the final wines.

All in all, the area makes wines of excellent value, if somewhat simpler in style than Sauternes. The wines tend to be full-bodied and show finesse on the palate. They can easily age for 2 to 5 years, and much longer for great vintages. They are best served well-chilled (8-9°C).

Château Loupiac-Gaudiet

Image borrowed from Château Loupiac-Gaudiet' s website.

The history of Château Loupiac-Gaudiet dates back to the 18th century, and it has been in the ownership of Ducau family since 1919. Marc Ducau began helping his father around the property at the age of 14 and he became the third generation of the family to own it in 1964. It continues to be a full family affair today. In 1986, he invited his nephew, Daniel Sanfourche, to come join and he has been managing the company since 1995. His wife Marie-Laurence has been in charge of the commercial and administrative parts of the company since 1991, and their son Nicolas also joined the family business in 2014.

They’re very committed to the production of sweet wines, and 26 out of their 30 hecatores are dedicated to growing grapes for this purpose, although they also make a red wine under the label Château Pontac. Sémillon is the main variety for their dessert wines, with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc. Grapes are hand-harvested, usually in two to three passes through the vineyards to give the grapes a chance to develop to optimal conditions.

Image borrowed from Château Loupiac-Gaudiet' s website.

I received the Château Loupiac-Gaudiet Loupiac 2016 as a media sample (please note, no other compensation was received and all opinions are my own) for participation in this month’s French Winophiles (#Winophiles) blogging event. On the nose, it shows notes of orange blossoms, orange creamsicle, apricots, a spritz of lemon, a hint of ginger, and touch of candied mango and pineapple. All of these notes continue on the palate, along with light hints of candy cap mushroom and almond. The wine has a delicately creamy mouthfeel, and is silky with little punch at the end where a bit of tang blends with the wines minerality.

Quick aside, the winery makes half the of the château available for guests to stay at. It looks quite lovely and I'm definitely making note of this for future, post-Covid travel. See more details here.


Geeky Details

Blend: 90% Sémillion, 10% Sauvignon | SRP: $17  |  Alc: 13%
Average VineAge: 45 years old
Soil: Clay and limestone
Vineyards and Harvest : Vineyards face southward on hill  that overlook  the Garonne river. As best I can tell, the vineyards are farmed sustainably via lutte raisonnée practices. Grapes are harvested by hand as soon as the botrytis appears, through several passes through the vineyard.
Winemaking and Maturation: Traditional with temperature control. Careful pressing with a pneumatic press (slow in order to minimise the risk of damage) slow fermentation to conserve aromas.Matured on fine lees for a minimum of 12 months. Regular, delicate rackings in perfect hygienic conditions.
Ageing Recommendations: 2-5 years if you want it fresh and fruity, 5- 10 if you prefer more richness, 10 – 30 years if you prefer more candied nut notes.
Wine and Food Pairing: Aperitif, white meats, cheeses, fruit and chocolate desserts, foie gras, lightly spicy meals.

taken from the tech sheet. You can find a version here.


The Pairing

The creamy sweetness of the dessert wines of Bordeaux often remind me a bit of crème brûlée, so I thought I’d try to pair them together. I first made a version of this Cinnamon Apple version a couple of years ago, loved it, and thought it a good time to try it out again. It’s essentially a classic crème brûlée but with a little hint of cinnamon. Then when crack through the sugar crust, there’s a cinnamon apple surprise hidden below the custard. It has a delightfully autumnal feel! 

I’ve taken to making custards like this one using my sous vide cooker because it pretty much takes all the guesswork out of it. I used Lisa Q. Fetterman’s recipe for Vanilla Crème Brûlée in Sous Vide at Home as the basis for mine. It maybe has a slightly little thicker consistency than some versions of crème brûlée, but it’s just so easy and no-stress. You can certainly (and I have) make a crème brûlée via the traditional method and just put a layer of cinnamon apples at the base.

On this particular occasion, I happened to have apple butter I made on hand and decided to intensify the apple flavor by adding a thin layer at the very base of the ramekin. This is completely optional, and in the past I only made it with the apple filling.

The flavors of the wine and these crème brûlée worked together very well. However, the custard was a little sweeter than the wine and it tamped down the fruitiness in the wine a little bit. Next time I would just reduce the quantity of the sugar a little bit
(as noted in the recipe) if I was planning to serve it in this pairing. It’s delightful as it is if you’re planning to enjoy the crème brûlée on its own.

apple, creme brulee
Servings: 4 to 6
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Sous Vide Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée

Sous Vide Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée

Prep Time: 15 MinCooking Time: 65 Mininactive time: 3 HourTotal Time: 4 H & 19 M
The custard for this recipe is based on Lisa Q. Fetterman’s recipe for Vanilla Crème Brûlée in Sous Vide at Home. I have found that using a sous vide circulator makes preparing tricky custards very easy and pretty much takes all the guesswork out of it. You can also easily adapt your favorite traditional crème brûlée recipe by putting a layer of the apple filling at the base of the ramekins and adding a pinch of cinnamon to the custard base.


Cinnamon Crème Brûlée
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (Note: If you’re making this to pair with the recommended wine pairing, I’d recommend pulling back the quantity to ⅓ cup.)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste, or 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • Generous pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsps (about ½ Tbsp per ramekin) brown sugar (You can also substitute a coarse sugar like turbinado or Demerara)
Apple Filling
  • 2 to 3 apples, diced into small to medium-sized chunks (the number of apples just depends on how much apple filling you’d like at the bottom of your crème brûlée.)
  • 2 Tbsps of butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Generous pinch of cinnamon, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • (optional) 3 to 4 Tbsp Apple butter


  1. Preheat your sous vide water bath to 181.4 °F (83°C) and your oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix the custard. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until smooth – specks of cinnamon and vanilla will be visible in the mixture. Whisk in the cream (along with the vanilla pod if using) until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into a quart-size (at least) freezer-safe ziplock bag and seal by using the water displacement method or the table-edge method. See notes.
  4. Once the water hits the desired temperature, place the bag of custard into the water, making sure it is fully submerged (it might require weighting down) and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Make the apple filling while the custard is cooking. Grease a medium baking dish or oven-safe pan with butter. Toss the diced apples with the tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and remaining butter and place in the prepared pan. Cover (if the pan doesn’t have a lid, tent with foil) and bake until the apple pieces are tender but toothsome – approximately 30 to 40 minutes – stirring halfway through. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
  6. Build the crème brûlées. Once the custard is cooked, remove the bag from the water bath and give it a shake to redistribute the contents and reblend the spices in the mixture. If using, spread a light layer of apple butter (about a tablespoon each) at the base of each of four 4-ounce ramekins or crème brûlée dishes, then evenly distribute the diced apples between them. Carefully pour or ladle the custard evenly between the ramekins on top of the apples. (Alternatively, you can also snip the corner from the ziplock bag and pipe the custard from the bag and into the ramekins. Be sure to discard the vanilla bean pod, if using.) Tap the bottom of each dish against the countertop to smooth out the custards and remove air bubbles. Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours. (If refridgerating for longer than that, wrap the ramekins in plastic wrap.)
  7. Remove the ramekins from the fridge a little before you’re ready to serve to allow them to come up to temperature. Sprinkle the brown sugar (about 1 ½ tsp per ramekin) over each custard, using the back of a spoon to spread the sugar out in an even layer. Although you might need more or less sugar depending on the size and shape of the ramekin. You want just enough sugar to cover the surface of the custard.
  8. Point a blowtorch directly at the surface of the sugar (the tip of the flame should almost touch the sugar) and move the flame back and forth until all of the sugar is melted and browned, 30 to 60 seconds. (Note: If you don’t have a blowtorch you can place the custards under the broiler for a few minutes, although you might not be able to achieve the same level of shatteringly crisp sugar crust.)
  9. Serve immediately.


To seal the bag the water-displacement method, close the zipper almost all the way, leaving about an inch open. Carefully lower the bag into the water, letting the water press out the air. Once most of the air is out, seal the bag completely, then allow it to drop into the water.

For the table-edge method, pour the custard into a freezer-safe, double-sealed ziplock bag and partially close the bag. Hold the bag against a table or counter with the liquid hanging over the edge and the zipper portion on top of the ledge. Use the edge to help push out any remaining air, then finish sealing the bag.

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I also received samples of  Château du Cros Loupiac , Chateau La Rame Sainte-Croix-du-Mont , and Chateau La Hargue Moelleux Bordeaux which I'll be getting to know over the next few months. Stay tuned – there's definitley more to come!


The rest of the French Winophiles (#Winophiles ) are exploring Sweet Wines of Bordeaux, hosted by Linda of My Full Wine Glass. You can read her invitation here. Also, thanks to Jeff of Food Wine Click! for arranging samples for the group.

Additional sources used for this post: 
This post contains affiliate links, including these Amazon Associate links, from which I might receive a commission at no cost to you.



  1. Crème Brûlée in a sous vide, great idea. Loupiac won't have trouble obtaining higher must weights as the climate continues to warm. Thanks for great tidbits of info, I always learn from you!

  2. I've never made creme brulee myself but, after reading your post, now I'm tempted to try! The more I taste the sweet wines of Bordeaux, the more I like them. Thanks for inspiring me to create another pairing for them.

    1. I really think this is one of the easiest ways to do make a creme brulee! And yes, such delicious wines.

  3. I didn't think I was "into" dessert wines until I tried these sweet Bordeaux samples.

  4. Very informative post as always! I love the deep dive into Loupiac and def made note of Château Loupiac-Gaudiet for my next trip (remember those?!) to Bordeaux. Crème brulée in a sous vide? Wow.

    1. Thanks Payal. And I truly believe this one of the easiest ways to make a custard.

  5. I didn't know that sales of dessert wines has been steadily declining in recent years until Jeff Burrows mentioned it during out chat last week. A shame.

    Your cinammon apple creme brulee and the Loupiac looks and sounds like an amazing pairing Nicole!

    1. Thanks so much Martin, it was pretty tasty if I do say so.


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!