Sunday, September 1, 2013

the sweet with the sweet

2005 Château Suau | AC Sauternes | Deuxième Grand Cru Classé
1997 Château Suduiraut | AC Sauternes | Premier Grand Cru Classé
1988 Château Lamothe Guignard | AC Sauternes | Deuxième Grand Cru Classé

And that's sweet. The sweet being the last things of a meal, you know, the thing which you take to bed with, the thing which you remember, most of all.

- Albert Roux, Marco cooks for Albert Roux

Sauternes excites me. How a wine can be so concentrated, so rich, so very much grand - yet remain complex, pure, and elegant. Extravagance and flair, grace and precision. Truly a great wine of the world. And so I was so excited to be opening a trio of wines I've had for a long, long time. Sauternes seems almost like a celebratory wine, a real treat. And for the longest time, I felt like I had nothing to celebrate. You know what ... I'm not good with being happy, with being satisfied with things. Almost feels wrong (and a bit naughty) to feel good about how things are. But a few days before I left Toronto, we cooked up some seafood, got some roast duck, and iced the bottles.

Sauternes belongs on the dinner table. Period. The interplay between sweet and savoury mirrors that of Chinese cuisine exactly, and instead of fighting for attention (as most people assume), all those flavours and aromas come together in a wonderful warm embrace. Acidity plays a huge role in this harmony, as always. And with age and maturity, the youthful exuberance of Sauternes turns into something entirely different - drier, more elegant, more textural, more mineral.

Sauternes in half bottles are reputed to age faster, but of course, every bottle is different. I've had these bottles for quite a few years now, and I was thrilled to find them in beautiful condition. The Suau, a more humble producer, showing all the richness and brightness of the grand 2005 vintage. Bursting with rich tropical fruit, those botrytis apricot aromas. The Suduiraut was the star of the evening. This 1997 was so mineral, so complex - clearly a regal wine. Lithe yet supple in texture on the palate, developing a great creaminess and length. And ending with a bottle I picked up in April when I visited New York's famous Chambers Street Wines, the '88 Lamothe Guignard's cork crumbled as I drew it with a screwpull, but the wine was gorgeous. Mature aromas reminiscent of wood furniture, dates, and nuts. Minerality still present, but does altogether seem to be getting a little tired. Good amounts of sweetness on the palate, a soft kiss and whisper on the finish.
Truly a great evening. Roast duck from my favourite Chinese deli, sea cucumber in chicken broth - a little bit of happiness that puts a smile on my face whenever I'm a bit homesick.


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