Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
Last week’s post on Cleverchefs was one of my most popular ever on the blog (funny that as it didn’t get much traction on Twitter – not entirely sure how much, if any, effect posting links on there has on people reading the blog to be honest and I generally can’t be arsed with #hashtaggingthehelloutofit on Instagram for blog posts), so I thought it was time to bring the numbers back down to the usual levels with a booze blog post – cus I know you all love um!!!
Don’t know about you lot, but I have been increasingly driven to the drink during the ongoing lockdown and the blog will feature booze items a fair bit more going forward. This is one of many for you all to look forward too 😁.
I am a big fan of sweet wines (or as the Aussies like to call them stickies) and give me a half bottle or an imp (50cl – usually what legendary sweet wine Tokaji from Hungary, my favourite sweet wine, comes in) of it and a slab of salty blue cheese and I am as happy as a pig in sh!t.
Sauternes wines are regarded, by many, as the pinnacle of the sweet wine world (personally I think the crown is held by Tokaji Essencia – nectar of the Gods which is traditionally sipped from a crystal spoon, once tasted – and it was just the once for me with none other than Hugh Johnson at a tasting at Berry Brothers & Co. – never forgotten).
With the grapes affected by noble rot (botrylis), a fungus that penetrates the skin and shrivels the grape, the sugars are concentrated and supreme, yet non cloying, sweetness entails.
As a result I was very happy with the suggestion, from a committee member, that the Mystere Wine Club next virtual tasting covered a run of three sauternes from Chateau Lafarie – Peyraguet.
We were very lucky to have Tony Desallangre of Chateau Lafarie – Peyraguet with us (virtually) for the tasting. A very nice chap, who gave us some interesting background regarding the chateau and their wines and was also a font of knowkedge regarding questions (there were many) raised.
Some fascinating info. provided on the affect of the cooler (tree shaded) Ciron river joining the larger Garonne river in terms of creating the mist that is ideal for developement of botrytis.
Also a pairing suggestion of sauternes with roast chicken – sublime with the crispy salted chicken skin it seems.
Chateau Lafaurie – Peyraguet is a first growth Sauternes, sitting in a pack of 8 other chateaus at that level below the exalted (and extortionately expensive – the 2001 goes for £430 a pop) Chateau Yquem (its close neighbour). It is located in the Commune de Bomme,
to the left (as you look at the above map) of the shaded pink area in middle.
It is a chateau with some history, dating back to the 13th Century, with plots of vines totalling 40 hectares of predominately semillion with small parcels of sauvignon blanc and muscadelle (reflecting the blend in the wines).
So to the wine, which I served at 13 °c pouring then using a coravin into glasses (about 30 mins before the tasting), and held in a wine fridge at that temperature until I dialled into the online event.
Chateau Lafaurie – Peyraguet 2005
First up was the 2005, which had a lovely bright golden colour.
On the nose, it was quite delicate with pleasing aromas of almond, sugered walnuts and apricot (the latter almost dried in intensity). On the palate there was honey, as well as a touch of spice (vanilla) and citrus notes (orange).
Bit short on length I thought, as it fell away a bit on the palate rather than lingered.
Notwithstanding the shortness of length, this was an excellent start to proceedings.
Price wise are talking around £34 a bottle.
Chateau Lafaurie – Peyraguet 2003
Next up was the 2003, which had a much darker (almost bronzed) colour to it.
On the nose, I got almonds again as well as more floral (honeysuckle) and botrytis notes. There was more complexity here with zesty lemon, then marmalade and barley sugar coming through as it was swirled in the glass.
On the palate, it had a pleasing line of acidity and quince, spice and orange peel.
Great length to this wine, which lingered on the palate for an age.
Absolutely gorgeous stuff.
Price wise you are looking at around
£29 for a bottle.
Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2001
Much lighter in colour then the 2003,
My intial impression of the nose was this is not great, as I got whiffs of both sulphur and chlorine.
I put down the former to the fact that I had coravin’d it, but that would not be likely to account for the chlorine.
As a chlorine nose is a sign of the presence of TCA (i.e. cork taint), I gave it a bit of time and a generous few swirls before going back to the nose.
Second time the sulpher had gone and there was only a hint of chlorine with pineapple and caramel to the fore. On the palate, I didn’t get the chlorine and there was marmalade and quince as well as a touch of spice (nutmeg perhaps).
Nice acidity, but it just didn’t do it for me a much as the 2003 – think the initial chlorine put me off even though it dissipated.
Mrs. SF who had a much greater sensitivity to cork taint than me said unprompted the next day that it was corked.
In prime condition, this is priced at £38 a bottle.
Very interesting tasting with 3 very different wines.
I personally had the 2003 as the wine of the night, but the majority vote went for the 2001.
It seems only a couple of the attendees got the chlorine whiff (some worse than me) from the 2001
Were the suspect bottles from a different batches than the bottle other tasters had, I wonder?
When it comes to pairing sweet wine, the key is not to have something sweeter than the wine.
A fresh fruit salad is always good, but I went for (initially with the 2005) a Basque burnt cheesecake that Mrs. SF made from a Baratxuri recipe (I hasten to add I only had the cut out slice rather than the remaining bit of the cake in the picture – didn’t take me long to demolish the rest mind), which worked a treat.
With the 2003 and 2001 a British blue cheese called Beauvale that I got from Ty Cawrs worked rather well as a pairing.
Following the recommendation re pairings by Tony Desallangre, I tried the 2005 with a homemade whole roasted murgh masala and much to my surprise it paired wonderfully well.
The botrytis sweetness worked a treat against the spices in the chicken – a revelation, but then sweet does go with heat.
Another highly successful virtual tasting for the Mystere Wine Club following our bordeaux tasting.
I will report on the clubs latest online tasting, involving 3 Andulacian finos, in due course.