Beyond Port and Sherry, here are a few of our favorites:
Sauternes – the golden wine of the Sauternes region in
Bordeaux, these wines are made with botrytis-affected
grapes and produce a rich, honeyed concoction with an amazing balance of sweetness and acidity.
Don’t discount Sauternes'
neighbor, Barsac, or even the region across the river, Loupiac. Made in the same style, wines from both regions
carry a lower price tag but deliver the same quality.
Ice Wine – Ice wines are made from grapes that are picked in the dead of winter. The
grapes shrivel and then freeze, concentrating the sugar and protecting the grapes. Ice wine is a luscious nectar-like wine
- the best are from Canada (Inniskillin) and
Germany, made from grapes like
Riesling and Vidal (found in Canada).
Tokay – The Hungarian wine from the region of the same name. Drunk by European kings for centuries, Tokay is another
botrytis-affected wine, but made in a different fashion than most. Tokay comes in levels of sweetness, called puttonyos. The
higher the puttonyos, the sweeter the wine. For pure nectar, try Tokay Essencia, a wine so delectable, it's drunk by the spoonful.
Stickies – Australian sweet wines made most often
from botrytis-affected Muscat or Muscadelle.
because that’s what the juice is like. Typically a darker color, stickies are classically from Rutherglen and Glenrowan,
in the Australian state of Victoria.
Late harvest and botrytis – Sweet wines from some regions are frequently labeled as "late-harvest," meaning
were picked later than usual, with increased ripeness levels and sometimes with botrytis. You may see a wine called "botrysized,"
to indicate this. Late-harvest wines are made with grapes with a higher level of sugar.
Some wines to find include: Beaumes-de-Venise,
Alsace Vendage Tardive, Late-harvest Muscats.
Learn More About Bordeaux, France
A few extra appellations:
Bourg & Blaye
These two appellations are just across the Gironde river from the Haut-Medoc – a bit northwest of St-Émilion and its satellites. Bourg is the smaller appellation, nestled under the much bigger Blaye. Both have AC status, Cotes de Bourg AC and Cotes de Blaye AC. One step up on the AOC chain is the Premieres Cotes de Blaye AC, producing excellent red wines. Both regions rely primarily on Merlot, blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and some Cabernet Franc. Whites are allowed here too – usually Sauvignon Blanc, creating dry and pleasant wine.
Listrac & Moulis
These two appellations are situated in the western part of the Medoc, in that they are further inland from their more prestigious neighbor communes like Margaux and Pauillac. In typically Medoc fashion, the wines are based on Cabernet Sauvignon. Due to their location further inland, the soils are dense and retain water, leading to wines that can be more rustic than those wines from communes on the riverbanks. But seek out the good producers, as many bargains are to be had in the Cru Bourgeois of these regions.
Entre Deux Mers is not exactly what it means – between two seas - as technically it's between two rivers. The wines produced in this region, sandwiched between the Garonne & Dardogne rivers, are light and charming and often reasonably priced. The AC of Entre Deux Mers is only for white wines, reds from the region will be listed as Bordeaux AC. Like other Bordeaux whites, wines of the area are made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Light, crisp, citrus-y and floral, these wines are great summer drinkers.
Bordeaux & Bordeaux Superior
Bordeaux wines that do not fall under a specific appellation are labeled "Appellation Bordeaux" or "Appellation Bordeaux Superieur." The majority of wines made in Bordeaux fall into one of these categories. Wines from these two classifications are made with grapes that come from any appellation within Bordeaux – white or red. Most of the wines are white, and much of the red comes from Entre Deux Mers, where only white wines can bear the namesake appellation on their label. Bordeaux Superior has slightly stricter regulations than the Bordeaux AC.