By Sommelier Ruud Vleeming
About 40 kms south-west of Bordeaux is the subregion of Sauternes and Barsac. Although the weather in the Bordeaux region is dominated by an oceanic climat, the Sauternes and Barsac district has a specific micro-climate condition due to the Ciron, a left tributary of the Garonne river. Characterized by misty mornings and a usual high autumn sun exposure in the afternoon, this special microclimate facilitates the development of the Botrytis Cinerea fungus. The so-called noble rot, created by this fungus, stimulates a desiccation process of ripe grapes and thus the production of a very high concentration of sugar, acid and flavours in the affected grapes. Only the grapes that are sufficiently shriveled and turned brown are being handpicked in successive trips down each row of wine ranks resulting in low and irregular yields of only 25hl/ha or less! After being picked, the botrytized grapes are used to make natural sweet wines, the so-called vins liquoreux. Remark that a vine produces just one to three glasses of this precious nectar!
One of the smaller wine-producers in Barsac is Chateau Jany, owned by the Turtaut family for three generations. Their wines are predominantly made of the Semillon grape (95%) and some Sauvignon Blanc. Some years ago I tasted the 2012 and 2013 millesimes and I bought six bottles of them. Recently, I tasted again the 2013 millesime of Chateau Jany.
The wine had preserved its golden yellow color and on the nose complex aromas of citrus, acacia, sweet flower honey and juicy apricots were present. So even before actually drinking, I knew that an intriguing glass of sumptuous liquid was awaiting me again. When I started tasting the wine, my palate was blessed with a full body without being heavy due to a fresh acidity. This wine, now seven years old, was elegant with a challenging mix of fruity aromas, honey, hints of tropical fruits like pineapple, spices, a touch of vanilla and a medium to long finish.
My dear wife had prepared a food and wine match for this tasting with pâté de foie gras, candied figs and onions, brioche and toast: a well-known classic and delicious combination.
Although sweet wines are not very fashionable nowadays, pairing the Chateau Jany with a very Old Gouda, a Roquefort or with a Blue d’Auvergne is also an absolute must-try! Therefore, the vins liquoreux of Barsac should not only be considered as dessert wines but can also be used to surprise your guests (and yourself) by serving it for a delightful aperitif or an astonishing match with cheese!