Sauternes isn't just for dessert. Aline Baly and her colleagues in Sauternes have been employing strategy to spark new energy into the appellation.
Human beings, as a whole, love sweet. Studies have shown that newborn babies, when given a choice, prefer sugar water over milk. We begin life with a sweet tooth, even while that bud is still locked inside the confines of our tiny gums. For most of us, the craving continues to haunt, delight, plague and pleasure us for the rest of our days.
Becky Sue Epstein is back in Bordeaux, for the annual en primeur tastings. She continues her live coverage from France here. It has begun. The criss-crossing of Bordeaux by hundreds of journalists and thousands of buyers, swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting hundreds of samples of the new wines, the vintage 2010 wines from the great châteaux of Bordeaux, the Unions des Grands Crus (UGC).
The capsule was intact, fill level good, firm cork, and there was no trouble opening the bottle. The cork initially smelled like ancient, wet wood, then dried out to echo the wine’s aromas. The wine poured like honey, caramel gold in the glass. At first it really had no aroma. It tasted of dates and prunes, with plenty of acidity. It was typically developed for a Sauterne, even a touch woody, almost maderized. An hour later, aromas were more prevalent and the wine was still rich, finishing with dried apricot flavors. With food—haricots verts with shallots—it matches like an older Riesling. It tasted sweeter against a fairly plain, sautéed shrimp dish. Still later, as flavors lightened toward the front palate, the finish lengthened. The next morning, I tasted the bit I preserved in the bottom of a glass, and the wine remained just as vibrant. Unfortunately (sigh!) a small swallow is all that’s left. Enough for breakfast, I guess.
The dark golden color is clear evidence of the age of this wine. Minerality and acidity run in streaks through golden honey, white honeysuckle, and marzipan flavors. A tangy-sweet key lime peel citrus carries the acid and keeps it from being cloying. Drink with foie gras or, if you must, a more politically correct paté.
After a whole generation of ignoramuses, it’s the younger people who are starting to appreciate the great sweet wines of the world. Snapple®, Cosmo cocktails…sweet wines: is this their liquid progression? This is what I found at Vinoble, the biennial sweet wine conference held recently in Jerez, in the south of Spain.
Less than an hour out of the city of Bordeaux and we’re stopped in a little lane in the middle of a farm. “The GPS says it’s here,” the driver offers, looking around at what is obviously not the château we’re looking for. He calls headquarters. Frankly, I can’t understand how anyone finds their way around the famed regions of Sauternes and Barsac in the southern part of Bordeaux.