Saturday, October 26, 2019

France’s Golden Bordeaux Wines A Rare And Sweet Delight

South of Bordeaux lies a region known for sweet and dessert white wines, famed for fascinating aromas and complexity.

Loupiac with spicy Cajun crab dip

Shining A Light On Golden Bordeaux

While the Bordeaux region is primarily known for dry reds and whites, its sweet wines also have garnered worldwide fame. Sauternes is most well-known of several AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) that produce exemplary sweet wines.

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Golden Bordeaux are off-dry and sweet wines produced with Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. The wines have vibrant acidity and flowing aromas that can include mandarin orange, pear and apricot. We recently had the opportunity to taste through a collection of Golden Bordeaux wines hosted by Snooth and Jean Reilly, Master of Wine. The wines came from Sweet Bordeaux, a collection of eight AOC in south Bordeaux surrounding Sauternes. Its vineyards cover 4,400 acres and account for 2% of total Bordeaux wine production. Each year, approximately 9 million bottles of sweet and dessert wines are produced across more than 350 estates.

Varied hues of Golden Bordeaux

Not Just For Dessert

Golden Bordeaux should be served ice-cold. Since you’ll be taking small sips of the wine, it is likely to remain in the glass longer. A nice chill will keep it at the proper temperature.

 Segur du Cros 2017 Loupiac Keep up with the latest. Follow us on Instagram!

Although the impulse is to serve Golden Bordeaux with a sweet dessert, restrain yourself! In France Golden Bordeaux is often served as an aperitif for arriving guests as a special treat. It can also be served with a savory first course or a main course like fish or turkey. If saved for the end of the meal, serve it alone as the combination of a sweet dessert with a sweet wine could be overpowering.

Our first introduction to Golden Bordeaux was the sensational Chateau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac 2009 Cuvee d’Or. We enjoyed this with a spicy Cajun crab dip. The wine has a superb golden amber color. The wine is affected by Botrytis Cinerea (noble rot) which adds amazing complexity. The grapes come from a vineyard planted in 1910. It gets a year of aging in oak. Citrus and deep honey flavors crescendo into an elegant finish.

We served the Segur du Cros 2017 Loupiac with a spinach and pear salad. The vines average 60-years-old and are grown on hillsides of the right bank of the Garonne River. Lovely aromas of flowers and honey fit well with our salad.

Our herbed dill salmon with asparagus and parsley lemon potatoes was paired with the Chateau de Marsan Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux 2015. This is an 80% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle blend. A slightly golden yellow, the wine has citrus notes and a wee chalkiness.

Herbed Dill Salmon with Chateau de Marsan

A Harvest Of Flavors

Notable to me – and to Arthur Barham who joined me for the virtual tasting – was the sweeping range of flavors. We tasted 11 wines and they had notes of everything from leather and earth to flowers, nuts and tropical fruit. Part of that is due, no doubt, to the wonderful limestone and chalky clay soil. Taking the complexity to the next level is the noble rot. Botrytis Cinerea fungus attacks the grapes and feeds on the moisture inside. As the water is removed, the sugar and concentrated flavors remain. Harvesting must be done precisely to take advantage of these rare and special grapes.

All the wines were enjoyable, but one more deserves special recognition. The Chateau Les Arroucates Sainte Croix du Mont 2017 is 92% Semillon and 8% Sauvignon. The noble rot berries are harvested by hand. The soil is clay and limestone with fossilized oyster shells from the Tertiary Era.

The flavors range from melon and pear to dried fruit and orange liqueur. Arroucates is a shining example of Golden Bordeaux at its finest: a complex wine that is a cocktail of flavors in itself.

Golden Bordeaux is reasonably priced. You can expect to pay $20 or less for a 375ml bottle or $40 or less for a full size bottle. Treat yourself to this French delight – or pick up a bottle or two to surprise your dinner guests. For more information, see the Sweet Bordeaux website.

Full Disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

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