Monday, April 10, 2017

Rivesaltes Sweet Wine, 1995

Rivesaltes is the French AOC for naturally sweet, fortified wines in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France. The Roussillon region allows nearly two dozen grape varieties to be used in winemaking. There we find such grape varieties as Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Petit Grain, Macabeu, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Viognier and Carignan.

Roussillon Wines promotes themselves as "The Other French Vintage Wine," although I think  the region needn't concede so much to the better known areas like Bordeaux and Burgundy. For years I have sought out wines from the south of France as being more in my own personal wheelhouse, and for better value.

Terrassous Les Vignobles de Constance Vin Doux Naturel Hors d'âge

The Terrassous aged sweet wine series features a range of their natural sweet wines that have been aged for at least 6 years. This one is from 1995, an 18-year-old wine. The wine is fortified to 16% abv and sells for about $25. That’s for a nice, full-sized wine bottle, too, not a little "sweet wine" size.

The wine is made of Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris grapes grown in France’s Rivesaltes region of Roussillon, just north of Spain and west of the Balearic Sea.  It's surely sweet, but with the beautiful tart edge that makes dessert wine so approachable and food friendly. Pair with pastries or enjoy on its own as an aperitif or a finale.

The 18 year bottling is dark like bourbon, deep brown with an orange glow. The nose is fabulous, raisiny and brown sugar sweet, with oak notes showing plainly. On the palate, don't think you're getting away without acidity. It’s ripping fresh still, even at its advanced age. Brown sugar immediately coats the tongue and the mouth is full and round. A wave of raisins follows and the combination stays on the honeyed, lengthy finish. The wine seems perfect for a dessert pairing, but I just sipped it, like the after dinner drink it is.