The Golden Dolphin

Some of you might know that it was Sauternes that brought me to Bordeaux. Or rather, the fact that my husband to be was based there, running the family vineyard: Château Guiraud.

Hamilton moved from Canada to Bordeaux in the late 1970s to renovate the château. At the very heart of the appellation, this 1st growth of the 1855 classification was in a very sorry state; with trees growing through the buildings and the wine not living up to it’s status. Under the Narby stewardship of almost 30 years Château Guiraud, a 1st Classified Growth, was restored to its former glory.

One of the many ways Hamilton put the Château and the wines back on the map was by opening the doors to the public, welcoming visitors seven days a week, and opening a restaurant in one of the cottages belonging to the estate on the edge of the village.

Chateau Guiraud with the well that features in the story.

When the 1981, the first vintage under Narby ownership was bottled, Hamilton decided to add the symbol of the dolphin to the label. My father-in-law was in shipping and the dolphin, a friend to all mariners, had become the family emblem. As the Guiraud label was traditionally black and gold, the Golden Dolphin was created.

The Château Guiraud label with the Golden Dolphin

Visitors to the vineyard would often ask ‘why is there a Golden Dolphin on the label?’ Hamilton, being a bit of a raconteur, would get fed up of telling the same old story, and was known to embroider things a bit. So was born the myth of the Golden Dolphin.

The story went that a magical Golden Dolphin on its way up the nearby Garonne river lost its way and swam up the Ciron. The Ciron is the cool stream that is the source of the misty mornings in the region, the famous Sauternes micro-climate that encourages the development of Botrytis Cinerea, or noble rot. It is this noble rot that concentrates the sugars in the grapes, transforming and creating the unique aromas of these world famous sweet wines.

Morning mists from the Ciron

The story continued that this Golden Dolphin became trapped in the well at Château Guiraud and once saved, promised to come back every year to ensure an excellent harvest – I paraphrase a little.

The hero of the Golden Dolphin

On the birth of our grand daughter, Margaux, Hamilton decided to put pen to paper and write the story down for her. It became more embellished along the way; Margaux of course plays a major role in saving her magical friend.

Our son William and his wife Amy, both artists, illustrated the story and the Golden Dolphin book was born.

Encouraged by friends’ enthusiasm, we decided to publish, and you too can now learn the secret of the Golden Dolphin of Sauternes.

Available from Lulu and Amazon if you would like a signed copy please e-mail me.


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