I have a definite soft spot for Bordeaux sweet wines, which makes me very unfashionable I know. But there is something about wines that you can spend a good ten minutes enjoying the nose, and know that just one glass will keep you going for a further hour. And because they are so labour intensive to produce, you have to admire the people who dedicate their lives to them. In 2008, for example, the average yields in Sauternes were between 5 and 10 hectolitres per hectare (the average in the Medoc, where it was also an unusually low producing year, was around 40 hectolitres, meaning a lot more wine to sell at the end of the day).
Chateau Climens, Sauternes 2007
A very good year for Sauternes, where the noble rot loved the slow sunny days of September and October. This has great concentration and complex fruits, both exhilaratingly acidic and deeply creamy at the same time.
(tasted during the en primeurs)
Chateau Raymond Lafon 2001, Sauternes (approx £40)
This might sound like a Parisian revue bar, but is in fact one of the great insider wines of Sauternes. Just next door to Chateau d'Yquem, its owner Pierre Meslier was winemaker at Yquem for most of his professional life, before cleverly buying some adjoining vines and making his own. This was a superb vintage in the appellation, and Meslier has created a superlative wine – that somehow manages to be lusciously sweet, layered with exotic fruits, without ever even flirting with being cloying. The smart money should go here.
(tasted for my Business Destinations wine column, January 2008)