Friday, 6 August 2010

The best sweet wine I have ever tasted from Languedoc

Domaine d'Archimbaud Vendange d'Automne Vin de Table de France (2007)
The label says "Mout de raisins partiellement fermenté - Issue de raisins passerillés". Which basically means a wine from grapes harvested very late in the season (and therefore partially raisined on the vine). There is no AOC for such wines in Languedoc, nor I guess a Vin de Pays, hence the simple Vin de Table denomination. No vintage is allowed on the label, but this is from the 2007 vintage. As far as I am aware, it is fashioned from 100% Bourboulenc, a grape also occasionally known as Malvoisie in Languedoc. If you are confused, then read the entries for both in The Oxford Companion To Wine - and you'll end up even more confused! This wine is a rich, shiny 24-carat gold colour with orange tinges. The nose is sublime, offering captivating aromas of bonfire toffee, candied orange peel, marzipan, fig, honeysuckle and rose, whilst the palate is simply bursting with flavours of autumn fruits, preserved citrus, root ginger and toffee. It caresses the tongue with intensely concentrated fruit, before unleashing a rasp of limey acidity that almost makes your hair stand on end. The finish is immense, lasting for literally minutes, whilst revealing hitherto unnoticed flavours of toffee apple, lemon sorbet, clove and cinnamon, not to mention just about every exotic fruit nuance you could care to mention.

Now I have to admit that, although this was lovely from the moment I opened the bottle, it actually sat in the fridge for a good week or two before I eventually finished it, during which time it just got better and better. But this feeling sort of crept up on me, until I finally sat down to contemplate the last glass and realised just how utterly wonderful it was. Perhaps it just needed to be in the right place at the right time, but it finally reminded me, in the most glorious way, how a great sweet wine can be one of life's most pleasurable experiences. In fact, it is at times like this that one wonders how one could ever drink anything else! I have been privileged to taste many fine examples of the world's greatest sweet wine styles - German and Austrian TBA's, Sauternes, Loire Chenins, Jurancon, Aussie Semillons, Tokaji, Canadian Ice Wine, whatever. And this one has provided as much pleasure for me as any of them. Like all of these wines, balance is everything - a high level of concentration and sweetness demands a healthy level of acidity, and this one has plenty. OK, so the label says it is nothing more than a Vin de Table, but I for one have learned never to let such a humble denomination decieve me. It is what's in the glass that matters, and this is - in my humble opinion - a very special wine indeed. In fact, it is head and shoulders the best wine of its kind I have ever tasted from the Languedoc. And the empty (50cl) bottle has already taken its place in the "empties" hall of fame, atop the welsh dresser in my dining room.

The good news, for any of my customers who read this and are intrigued enough to want to try this wine, is that I might just be able to get my hands on some more. And if I can, the projected selling price will be a bargain at £14.99 for a 50cl bottle.
I mentioned in an earlier post (just after I came back from holiday) that I made a last-minute visit to Domaine d'Archimbaud, before we headed north on our journey home. I have a couple of other wines from this estate that I want to tell you about (apart, of course, from the ones I already sell), so I'll post about those (and the wonderul people at Archimbaud) over the weekend.

1 comment:

Louise Hurren said...

I'm glad someone else besides me has an "empties" hall of fame! I feel daft keeping them but somehow I can't just put them in the recycling bin, and just writing down the details or even soaking off the labels isn't quite the same.