Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sauternes, Chateau de Veyres 1986

What would you consider decadence? What would you consider a treat, a real something special?

     For New Years Eve, my wife and I decided to spend the money to fly from Vancouver to Edmonton to visit my family. My father is here, my step-mother of 25 years, my brothers, my little sister... in short, a large part of my heart is permanently fixed to Edmonton, Alberta. This fact in and of itself is not a bad thing, but in the middle of winter when the mercury hits -30C (and lower) it may in fact seem a bad thing.

     But I digress.

     What is a treat? To me, spending time with my family is a genuine treat; it is something to savor and enjoy. Being with my family is a rarity that begs to be swirled in the glass and pondered over like a fine glass of wine.

     Speaking of which, this was the wine we had at the end of dinner tonight:

1986 Chateau de Veyres (de Preignac)
appelation Sauternes controlee, Bordeaux, France
13.5% ABV, $200++ CAD (approximate value)    **EXCELLENT VALUE**
  • visual:     clean; moderate+ intense solid gold core with the slightest watery rim
  • nose:     clean; moderate+ to fully intense developed bouquet showing signs of age; levels and nuances from the rich apricot jam, almondy lees, alfalfa and wildflower honey, raisins and grapes, still a surprising amount of youthful green grasses, hay and summer flowers... only slightly hot alcohol (barely perceptible as heat)
  • palate:    clean; sweet; moderate+ acids (pink grapefruit), full bodied, moderately intense flavors; showing age and development; rich terroir comes through with the grapefruit acidity initially... long sweet honeyed flowers follow with almondy lees and a more crisp apricot then felt in the bouquet. Finish is most complex with all of the above, swirling in the glass and on the palate for what seems like ages. Incredibly developed structure, very good balance.
  • conclusion:    I didn't think I would ever say this, but this wine has not peaked yet. 25 years old, and it is barely coming into it's own... there are so many layers on the palate, the acids and sugars are so strong, that I feel in all honesty that it would be best to sit on this vintage for another 10 years (or longer). I may be willing to taste in 2016 should I have enough bottles cellared. Time will allow the alcohol to soften further and the flavored nuances to coalesce into a more cohesive form.
  • PAIRS WITH:     we paired with Anjou pears poached in port, finished with a strawberry-rhubarb gelato and toasted pecans... any soft flavored toasted nut (almonds, pecans) will play off of the lees, the faint florality of rhubarb will play off the sauternes natural soft floral, ripe pears a nice contrast to sharp apricot
     Whilst it may be true that I can converse with some adeptness in Le Francais, I am by no means bi-lingual. So then, when my research on Chateau de Veyres came up in French (what little I could find) - it was a trifle dismaying. Mostly I learned that the Chateau is a small vineyard of only 21 HA (small by New World standards). Their soil is calcareous with some clay, limestone and silicate. What I can garner from my learned French colleagues (such as the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) is that they would prefer to serve this with seared foie gras and prunes. Well, far be it for little old me to argue with my betters - or at least elders. I can completely understand the desire to drink this with foie gras au torchon, or something similar.  

     Instead I had this with something much more decadent. Something rare and precious to me; my family. I would hope for you reading this, that one day you are as lucky as I was tonight, and can share a fine bottle with the ones you love.

CIN CIN !!!    SLAINTE !!!   CHEERS !!!

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