Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Holiday Celebration with Golden Sweet Bordeaux Wines

For those of you that know me from reading my blogs you know that I have a sweet tooth.  So when the opportunity presented itself last month for me to receive bottles of sweet bordeaux from France I jumped at the opportunity.  My husband used to drink and experiment with me on a variety of wines, but I lost him along the way in the wine journey.  He'll never hesitate though when I'm opening a dessert wine or something sweeter in nature so he participated in the tasting festivities.

I attended a virtual tasting with Snooth whom provided these wonderful wines hosted by the owner of Snooth, Mark Angelillo, and Master of Wine, Mary Gorman McAdams.  It was a very informative tasting on this region I admitingly didn't know too much about, but Mary's delightful manner and passion was shining through during the session and was a fantastic learning experience for myself.  Hopefully I can pass along some of that information and make you want to try some of these wonderful wines as well.

I'm always intrigued by wine pairings and what this tasting proved to me is that it's ok to try something outside of the box and go a little crazy.  You never know, it may just work!  That is what we discovered with this pairing.  We had a variety of snacks that included everything from sweet potato and beet crackers to salami, sriracha cashews and jalapeno chicken crisps.  No one ever said you had to go all out to experience a treat.  Most would think of more desserts or cheeses to pair with these wines, but savory was showing to be a great way to go.  Mary's choice hands down was pairing these sweet bordeaux wines with fried chicken.  Now I'm intrigued myself to try it.  She is the expert and all.
pairings with sweet bordeaux wines
The wine region of Bordeaux is about a 2 hour train ride from Paris in the southwestern part of France.  What makes this area special for producing sweet bordeaux is the climate.  There is a balance of heat and humidity at times that allows the grapes to develop what is known as noble rot, or in more technical terms botrytis cinerea.  Plus, its proximity to the Gironde river also contributes to the right conditions for these grapes.  The grapes on the vine shrivel concentrating the sugars and allowing this good fungus to develop on the grapes.
Sweet bordeaux are produced primarily from semillon with sauvignon blanc and muscadelle grapes.  As Mary mentioned that semillon is "king" in Bordeaux.  These thin skinned grapes lend a certain texture and richness.  The sauvignon blended in brings freshness and acidity while the muscadelle gives it a little body and spice.  They are typically a beautiful golden color. 

We tried wines from a few of the appellations of this region including Cadillac, Loupiac and the ever famous Sauternes.  I loved Mary's expression that in the "Medoc it takes a vine to make a bottle of wine and in Sauternes it takes a vine to make a glass of wine".  This expresses the labor that goes into making these wines and the yields that must be used to produce these 375 ml bottles. 
map of sweet bordeaux sauternes loupiac cadillac
Copyright of Wine Folly
The great thing about these wines is that they can age for decades.  Mary referenced that when she visited one of the wineries below, Chateau du Cros in Loupiac, that she had a bottle from the 1920's that was still drinking wonderfully.  If that doesn't show you how ageworthy they are I'm not sure what will. 

Mary recommended the following vintages to seek out: 2001, 2007 and 2011.

Now to the wines......

sweet bordeaux wines of Sauterns Loupiac Cadillac
2016 Chateau Manos Cadillac
Located in the Cadillac appellation made up of only 22 communes along the right bank of the Gironde river.  This is a newer appellation created in the 70's in comparison to the others created in the 30s.  Made of 98% semillon, 1% muscadelle and 1% sauvignon.  This wine was fresh with good acidity and lots of tropical fruits (banana) and stone fruits (apricots).  Honeyed with a smooth texture.  SRP $14.

Pairing: I enjoyed this wine with the Wilde Jalapeno Chicken Chips.  I'm not one for spicy sot he chips alone had enough kick for me, but was balanced out by the sweetness and texture of the wine.

2014 Chateau du Cros Loupiac 
This wine came from the Loupiac appellation also on the right bank of the Gironde river.  It's larger in size than Cadillac.  Made of 90% semillon, 5% sauvignon and 5% muscadelle.  This wine had a florally nose and juicy, ripe tropical and stone fruits on the palate combined with lemon zest.  SRP $23

Pairing: I chose the Emerald sriracha cashews.

2016 Chateau Loupiac-Gaudiet
80% semillon with 20% sauvignon.  This wine was lighter in body with fresh fruit notes of peaches and some marmelade with a little spice. SRP $20

Pairing: I went with the 3 seed sweet potato and 3 seed beet crackers on this one from Trader Joes

2011 Chateau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac
Made of 80% semillon and 20% sauvignon blanc. Mary described this vintage as AMAZING!  This wine was complex with lots going on as the wine opened up.  Lots of fresh fruit on the nose.  Very clean on the palate with high acidity and orange citrus with even some butterscotch notes.  SRP $28

2015 Chateau la Rame Sainte Croix-du-Mont
This wine hails from the Sainte Croix-du-Mont appellation.   Mary described this area as having more limestone than the prior appellations, which lends to the wine showing more purity.  It's comprised of 75% semillon and 25% sauvignon.  2015 was a very lush vintage and the wine expressed that.  Lots of orange, apricot and honey.  A very concentrated wine.  SRP $20

2015 Chateau Filhot Sauternes
We've made it to the appellation of Sauternes.  This wine is comprised of 60% semillon, 36% sauvignon and 4% muscadelle.  Mark shared a great descriptor of orange creamsicle on this wine.  Along with some citrus this wine was very luscious.  SRP $30 

2016 Chateau Lapinesse Sauternes
Made of 100% semillon this wine was rich, full-bodied and silky on the palate.  Plenty of floral notes with luscious apricots and peaches on the palate. SRP $20

Pairing: I contrasted this wine with the Olli Gusto Calabrese Salami. 

2006 Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes
90% semillon and 10% sauvignon.  Mary wanted to just "snuggle up with this wine" based on it's beautiful amber color.  Aromatic with toasty notes.  A wine with depth and creaminess with vanilla, spice and everything nice!

Pairings: Mary recommended grilled lobster with this.  Sounds like heaven! 

Have you experienced sweet bordeaux or any savory pairings?  Would love to hear them.


*All wines were provided as samples, but as always opinions are my own. 

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