jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sweet wines: Sauternes and its neighbours

I must admit, I do enjoy sweet wines. But not very often, because I can't seem to generate enough situations where it seems appropriate to pop the cork on something sweet. It's not like you'd open a bottle of Sauternes at 6 pm and drink it for the evening, is it?

I've been opening quite a few sweet wines from Sauternes and other neighbouring Bordeaux regions over the last few days because I had some samples in. It's been quite fun: overall, the quality has been good, and while these are by no means the best or most expensive examples of sweet wines from Bordeaux, they're pretty consistent, with one notable exception.

The exception was a Laithwaites wine, which was actually quite awful: the LS Semillon 2002 1er Cotes de Bordeaux. The thing is, it looked so good from the label (above), but unfortunately this tasted like cheap, dilute sweet white Bordeaux - not worth (to my palate) the asking price of over £6 for a half. In fact, I wouldn't buy this if it was £2 a half. [I hate to write negative notes, but sometimes the real underperforming wines need to be outed. I also think it's healthy for critics to be critical: my job is to write for consumers, not to act as a PR agent for the wine trade.]

The others, from Cadillac, Loupiac, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont and Sauternes itself, have all been enjoyable wines. With their golden colours, presented in clear glass bottles with white labels and gold capsules, they also look stunning. Probably the best (certainly in terms of value) has been the Chateau La Caussade 2004 Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (£11.86 Waitrose for 75 cl). Yellow/gold in colour, this has an appealing nose of honey, lanolin, spice and ripe peach. The palate is richly textured and broad, with sweet melon and apricot fruit balanced by a subtly spicy bite. It's not as intense or multidimensional as the best Sauternes can be, but it's still a really nicely balanced wine.
My only concern with drinking these sweet wines is how fat I'll get. They're deliciously sweet, with perhaps 130 grams/litre of residual sugar. That means a bottle will have roughly 100 grams of sugar in it, which, together with the alcohol, sounds like a lot of calories. Has anyone done the maths?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back to the wine...

Feeling great today. After a remission of my vicious gastric disorder on Boxing day (thus no wine, hardly any food), I awoke feeling physically sound for the first time in ages. I actually felt like drinking wine!

It was a good job, because we were off for a family get-together at the Beavingtons (my wine-bibbing brother-in-law's pad), where food and wine were on the menu. It was the first time all four of the Goode children (myself, my twin sister Anne, younger sister Hester and younger brother Arthur) had gathered in the same location for ages and ages. We all brought our kids (12 in all) and a merry time was had. The wines included:

Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port 1966
This old Port wasn’t decanted, and so needs a little air to open up. It has a mellow, soft spicy nose that’s initially a little spirity, but becomes a quite fruity and fudgy. The palate is soft and complex with mellow red fruits, yet still has a bit of spicy bite. Rich, intense and drinking very well now. I reckon there’s no hurry to drink this up, although it’s probably not going to get any better. Very good/excellent 91/100

Château Suduiraut 2001 Sauternes
This is fantastic. Wonderfully intense, full nose with apricot, lemon, spice and vanilla notes. The palate is broad and super-concentrated, showing complex, viscous apricotty, marmaladey fruit bolstered by good acidity and with some honey notes. Even at such an early stage it’s already a first-rate example of Sauternes and is potentially immortal. Excellent 95/100

Francois Mikulski Meursault 2002 Burgundy
Good yellow colour. Rich nose showing some evolution, with nutty, toasty fruit. The palate is quite rich with toasty, spicy notes and some lemony freshness to the fruit. A delicious, modern-styled white Burgundy that’s drinking well now, but which I wouldn’t age too much longer. Very good/excellent 90/100

JP & JL Jamet Côte-Rôtie 1999 Northern Rhône
Another crack at this wine, which I’ve now had several times. At an en primeur tasting many years ago I described this 1999 as possibly the best young wine I’d ever tasted. It’s now approaching a rather savoury phase, now that the puppy fat is shed, and it shows itself as a classically styled Côte-Rôtie. Perfumed nose has spicy, animally, meaty characters alongside the fruit. The palate is savoury and intense with lots of fruit but also a distinctive meaty spiciness. I’ll not be opening my remaining few bottles for a while. Very good/excellent 93/100

Labels: , , ,