The sweet wines of Sauternes are probably one of the most difficult wines to make. The growing conditions need to have the perfect combination of moist morning fogs and hot afternoon sun to allow for the onset of that magical fungus call botrytis. Botrytis, otherwise know as “noble rot” is what gives Sauternes its intense sweetness. The botrytis fungus literally feasts on the grape’s water content leaving a slightly shrivelled but insanely sweet grape. The winemakers then hand pick each individual berry in successive passes through the vineyard so each grape is at its optimal ripeness. To say that this is a labour intensive wine to make is a bit of an understatement, but the results can be earth-shattering. I have seen grown men cry…seriously…weep like small children. Sauternes is that good.
The question most people have about Sauternes is when would I ever drink such a sweet wine? The most immediate answer has always been with dessert. While this is obviously correct, there are so many other ways to enjoy Sauternes. Sauternes has been traditionally paired with foie gras, but frankly too much foie gras is just gross. Plus, I think it’s just a matter of time before foie gras is banned everywhere. Some exotic pairing for a Sauternes are with cured ham, steamed lobster, oysters or even spicy dishes like pad thai or jerk chicken. It’s Sauternes balance of sweetness and high acidity that allows for such food versatility.
This week’s wine gives you all that versatility plus is a great value. The 2007 Château de Rayne-Vigneau has beautifully integrated flavours of honeycomb, apricot, mushroom and a slight earthiness. This wine’s high acidity gives it a beautiful balance and a long finish. Beyond the above mentioned food matches, I would recommend pairing it with a Roquefort or another strong blue cheese. The smellier the better.
At $31.00, 2007 Château de Rayne-Vigneau is not an inexpensive wine, but for Sauternes, it is a definite value. I would highly recommend picking up this wine for the upcoming holidays…but that’s just my opinion. Let me know what you think by commenting below.
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