Christmas Wine Week – The Sweets

Fortified, Sherry and Port, Sweet Wine

ice wine

Without question, sweet wines are the most under rated and under drunk in the world of wine. Ok, I get the fact that the cheap and nasty ones are cheap and nasty, and they’ve maybe put quite a few people off in the past. But in the UK these days we’re lucky to have a huge range of top drawer sweet wines and fortified wines from all the way across the world. Be a shame to miss out this Christmas!

#NWTW Week 20: Up & Downs of Sweet Wines From Noble Rot

Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, New Wine This Week, New Zealand, Sweet Wine

week 20 turkish pepper

A nagging conversation pops up at home every now and again.  My Scandinavian wife can’t cope with “candy” in the UK (I can’t cope with the word “candy”, but let’s not get into that now!).  For her it’s way too sweet.  Living over here she misses her salty liquorice and extra sours.  Point being is that we clearly have a collectively sweet tooth in this country.  But weirdly, we don’t drink all that much sweet wine

Bordeaux Broken Down ‪#‬2: What’s Over on the Left Bank?

France, Info For More Seasoned Winos

The point about this, I guess, is that you start to do a bit of word association. You will have heard of (or are going to hear of) lots of the place names listed below. But it always makes it that much easier to remember them when you’ve got your bearings on where they all are.

So I’m sorry boys and girls, but back to geography lessons to start with here.

Colour by numbers is back in fashion apparently

Colour by numbers is back in fashion apparently

The main areas of the Left Bank are the Médoc, Graves, and Sauternes.

Starting with the Médoc to the north of the city of Bordeaux. This is a nearly exclusively red wine area. This is split into 2 halves; the Bas-Médoc (usually just labeled Médoc) and the Haut-Médoc.

The Haut-Médoc is the more famous of the two. Within it there are smaller communes that take their name from local villages, such as Pauillac, Moulis, St-Estephe and so on. There’s actually a road, the D2 if I remember rightly, that winds all the way through these communes, and you just drive past massive château after massive château. It’s a bit surreal to be fair.

The Haut-Médoc is where nearly all the wines from the 1855 classification come from. In 1855 Emperor Napoleon III requested the best châteaux in the area to be ranked into 5 categories for an exhibition in Paris. The categories were 1st Growth down to 5th Growth. The rankings on the left bank haven’t changed since.

South of Bordeaux city, you’ve got Graves. Within Graves you’ve got a few more famous communes, probably the most famous being Pessac-Léognan. Here you get more reds, but also because of a slight change in soil and climate, it’s a great area for whites as well.

Also in Graves you’ve got the special area of Sauternes. Here growers use white wine grapes to produce sweet wine. They leave the grapes on the vine for a bit longer and wait for a special kind of fungus to take hold. Sounds disgusting, right? It’s harmless to humans they reckon, so let’s just move on. The fungus splits the grape, water evaporates, there’s more sugar concentration in the grape, so you get sweeter wine. Robert’s your mother’s brother.

Just before we knock the left bank map reading on the head, a quick note on the city of Bordeaux. I went for the first time a few weeks back. My life! It’s beautiful! The architecture, the layout, the flowing waterways. I’m going to start crying in a minute! If you ever get a chance; go. It’s top drawer.

It'll be the perfect destination once they fix the leaky old pipes!

It’ll be the perfect destination once they fix the leaky old pipes!

Right bank next time.