When you think Bordeaux, immediately your imagination takes you to big bold red wines, and when you think Sweet Bordeaux you most likely think of Sauternes. You would not be wrong in these presumptions, but there is more to sweet Bordeaux than just Sauternes. There are ten appellations that produce sweet Bordeaux wines that have varying degrees of sweetness. This makes it ideal for food pairings from savory, to spicy to sweet desserts.
In Bordeaux along the Garonne River, you will find a microclimate so distinct that it is one of the few places in the world that can produce the most illustrious and luscious sweet wines. The terroir is so unique that these sweet wines can only be made here.
Sweet Bordeaux wines can enhance and liven a holiday party. These wines can be served as a cocktail, an aperitif or paired with dinner and enjoyed all the way through dessert. These sweet wines are elegant luxurious wines that are a perfect compliment for the holidays and can be drunk year-round.
Sweet Bordeaux Appellations
Some of the greatest wines of the world are sweet wines and many are from the Bordeaux region. Bordeaux has been making some of the greatest sweet wines for centuries(think Chateau d’Yquem). Bordeaux’s major sweet wine-producing sites are along both sides of the Garonne River. Most widely known are the wines from Sauternes and Barsac but high-quality sweet wines are made in surrounding regions as well.
10 appellations make sweet wines, which include Sauternes, Barsac, Graves Superior, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Loupiac, Cadillac, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire, Cérons, and Bordeaux Supérieur. These AOCs share one common goal and that is to produce the highest quality wines in a range of styles and price points.
Sweet Bordeaux Grapes
Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle are the three main grape varietals used to produce sweet Bordeaux wines. Sémillon is the key grape as it is particularly susceptible to Botrytis. Sémillon provides power and richness on the palate with its honey and apricot notes. Sauvignon Blanc adds exotic fruit flavors and acidity and the rare grape Muscadelle adds floral and fruit aromas to the blend.
Sweet Bordeaux – Terroir/Climate/Harvest
The Garrone and Ciron Rivers provide a very unique and special terroir that is exclusively found in the southern region of Bordeaux. The difference in the temperature of these two rivers creates a climate where there is a cool morning mist and fog, and then as the day progresses there is a transition to sunny warm afternoons. This microclimate is extremely conducive for Botrytis. Botrytis, also known as Noble Rot is a fungus that infects the grapes and causes the grapes to shrivel and dry, leaving behind deeply concentrated grapes. Noble rot not only concentrates sweetness but also increases the complexity of flavor of grapes.
What makes these wines so special is the care, the hand selection, and the attention to detail that goes into harvesting the grapes. During harvest, each grape(yes each grape not cluster) is picked one at a time. Only those grapes that are ready for picking are harvested. There are several passes made in the vineyards, picking only the best most perfectly shriveled, concentrated grape. Harvest can last several weeks, as there are several passes being made in the fields. If there is such a thing as custom, handcrafted wines, sweet Bordeauxs are it.
Sweet Bordeaux Food Pairings
The traditional food pairings that go with Sweet Bordeaux are cheeses, foie gras, chicken or desserts(my favorite pairing is chocolate souffle). Yet over the years, as I drink more and more sweet Bordeaux, I have been thinking outside the box when it comes to food pairings. Here are four pairings that I enjoy with sweet Bordeaux.
Firstly my favorite sweet Bordeaux pairing is blue cheese and sweet Bordeaux. The sweet Bordeaux softens the flavors of the blue cheese, especially the Château La Rame 2016 from Sainte Croix du Mont. The nutty, spicy and floral notes in the wine are quite alluring. The palate has great harmony and elegance. The high salt content of Roquefort cheese tempers the smooth sweetness of the Chateau La Rame; a combination that will both surprise and delight.
Spicy Singapore noodles with chicken and shrimp pairs delightfully with a glass of Chateau La Hargue Moelleux Semi-Dry 2019. The wine is delicate, elegant, perfectly balanced, light and fruity. The sugar, fruity flavors, and high acidity of the Chateau La Hargue balance the aromatic and spicy qualities of the noodles.
Château Loupiac-Gaudiet 2016 is an alchemy between fruit, sugar, and acidity. The presence of fruit and a lot of freshness in the mouth complements spicy fried chicken wings. The sweetness in the wine gives a delicious contrast to the crispy skin on the chicken. The wonderful flavors of dried stone fruits, honey, baked apple and the hint of spice from the noble rot take the palate to a new level.
Like most people, I have been baking a lot during these past few months in quarantine. One cake that I have made repeatedly and have perfected is the “Persian Love Cake”. The Persian Love Cake is a fragrant rose cake flavored with freshly ground cardamom and almond flour, and topped with crushed pistachios and rose petals. It reminds me of a lot of different Indian sweets my mom used to make while I was growing up. My mom used a lot of cardamon and rose when she made Indian desserts, which is why this cake grabs my heart. Click here for the recipe.
Chateau Du Cros Loupiac 2014 is an aromatic and perfumed wine, with notes of honey, toffee, lemon and orange zest. The citrus notes of wine is perfectly balanced with the lemon zest that is the base of the Persian Love Cake. This was a match made in heaven.
On Saturday, November 21st, the Wine Pairing Group, with hosts Jeff of FoodWineClick and Linda of My Full Wine Glass will chat on Twitter to discuss their favorite pairings with Sweet Bordeaux wines. Be sure to check out what my fellow wine writers have in store. You can join our chat at 11 am EST. Just follow #Winophiles.
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Surprise! Pairing Spicy and Savory Dishes with Sweet Bordeaux”
- Terri at Our Good Life: “Spicy Hot Tacos and Sweet Bordeaux”
- Martin at ENOFYLZ: “Pairing Golden Bordeaux with Southern Fare”
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish: “Golden Bordeaux Meets Savory Pumpkin and Smoked Bacon Tart: a Delicious Thanksgiving Twist!”
- David at Cooking Chat: “Pairings for Sweet Bordeaux Wine”
- Katrina at The Corkscrew Concierge: “Golden Bordeaux Delights in Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Cuisine”
- Payal at Keep the Peas: “Four Sweet Bordeaux Wines with Four Courses”
- Jane at Always Ravenous:“Golden Sweet Bordeaux Wines: Tasting and Pairings”
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: “Hot Chocolate and Halva Pudding paired with Lion De Tanesse L’Amour”
- Jeff at foodwineclick: “Sweet Bordeaux Meets the Smoke”
- Jill at L’OCCASION : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Aren’t Just for Dessert”
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest: “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Get Savory Pairings”
- Rupal at Syrah Queen: “Sweet Bordeaux Is A Sweet Delight – Savor These Perfect Food Pairings”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines and pairings from opposite sides of the globe”
- Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings: “Sweet Bordeaux Paired with Asian Carbs – Chinese Sticky Rice and Korean Japchae”
- Susannah at avvinare: “Delightful Sweet Wines from Bordeaux”
- Nicole at Somm’s Table:“Château Loupiac Gaudiet with Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée”
- Gwendolyn at wine predator: “Successful Pairings of Salty and Savory with Sweet Semi-Dry Bordeaux”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels: “A Look Into the Sweeter Side of Bordeaux Wines”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass: “Appetizers, entrées and yes, dessert please, with sweet Bordeaux”