Friday, December 1, 2017

Holiday Wine: Sweet Bordeaux Sainte Croix du Mont

What are the holidays without some sweet wine?  Well, they'd still be pretty great, but they'd be short on sweet wine, which would be a bad thing.  The lovely Bordeaux region of Sainte Croix du Mont sits right across the Garonne River from Sauternes, which produces probably the most famous French sweet wine.  In Sainte Croix du Mont, however, they also work wonders with Sémillon grapes.  Sweet white wine is not everyone's cup, but anyone who likes a good dessert and a good glass of wine should not object to having them in the same serving.  However, sweet Bordeaux wines are for more than dessert. Start a meal with them, an aperitif, or pair them with your main courses. Try to pair sweet wines with something salty or savory for a great balance.  Have it with your holiday pie, sure, but try it with the turkey, too.  You might be surprised at the pairing.

Sweet Bordeaux US and Snooth recently put on a virtual tasting of a nice selection of Sauternes wines, and I was lucky enough to be included.  Hosted by Snooth's co-founder and chief taster Mark Angelillo and wine educator Fred Swan, the event drew raves from those who participated in it.  Swan, especially, won kudos all around for his vast knowledge.

 The sweet wine of Chateau La Rame comes from the vineyard in Sainte Croix du Mont.  The vines average 50 years of age and the Sémillon grapes are hand harvested with successive pass-throughs.  The soil contains fossilized oyster beds which seem to impart a distinct minerality to the wine.  It's aged mainly in stainless steel tanks, with a little less than a third aged in French oak barrels. It retails for $20.

As for the Chateau La Rame Sainte Croix du Mont 2014, this rich, golden, sweet wine smells like honey and dried apricots. There's a layer of earthy minerals, a chalkiness, that beautifully counterpoints the sweetness.  On the palate, a viscous mouthfeel carries marmalade-like fruit flavors along on a subtle wave of acidity.  This is dessert on its own, but why limit such a wonderful wine? Have it with hard cheese, almonds or a lobster roll.

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