Dessert wines are not for everyone, I know, but I’m a huge fan, even if I don’t indulge in them too often. I do like my drinks on the sweet side, hence my penchant for sherry, Baileys and fruity cider.
Today’s wine is a bit of a surprise find. I must confess to not having heard of the town of Maury, in the far south of France. Although these days, it produces different types of wine, it is known for its Vins doux Naturels (VDNs) or naturally sweet wines. Just like port, VDNs are fortified with eau de vie, in this case, a neutral grape spirit, to stop fermentation midway before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol.
The result? A naturally sweet taste on the palate, very, very reminiscent of sweet sherry and port. The final alcohol level does depend on the regulations of the appellation d’origine protégée (AOP) but ranges around 15%.
Today’s wine, Domaine la Pléiade, Maury, 1995, made with Grenache wines, has an alcohol content of 16% and is basically bottled for 20 years after the addition of the grape spirit.
My 79 year old father in law, when he’s not on one of his 2 long walks a day, loves sitting in front of his computer looking for bargains. With Christmas being just over 2 months away, I expect that he may already be thinking of Christmas wines. Anyway, I got an email link from him about this 21 year old red wine that Lidl was selling at £9.99 (about $13) – yes, Lidl! My first thought was, do I don a disguise before I step in to investigate? You think I’m kidding?!
Long story short, I found myself at the local Lidl one Thursday morning without actually doing any research on the wine itself, because I plain forgot! I found the bottle after a bit of searching and bringing up my father in law’s email. Yep, 21 years old, it would seem. At £9.99, I decide to risk it. They had only 3 bottles in store, I decided to go for 2. Not knowing that it was dessert wine at that time, I figured if it was bad, I could just dump it in some beef stew or other!
What a surprise I got when we uncorked the bottle!
Colour: a deep, purple colour with shades of brown.
Nose: very, very fruity, think plums, blackcurrants, raisins and just a hint of smoky something in the background. Coffee maybe? Or chocolate. In fact, the first thing that ran through my mind was that the aroma was very, very similar to Pedro Ximenez sherry.
Taste: it’s rich, it’s pretty sweet and it’s intense. If you’re a sherry drinker, then the best way I can describe it is that it’s between a medium and sweet sherry. The sweetness stops just short though, not quite making it all the way to the back of your tongue. Very pleasant, very elegant. And very mild, with just a touch of acidity.
If you’re looking for a good dessert wine that won’t break the bank, this would be a great choice. However, it would also make a great aperitif.
A fantastic Christmas gift too.