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A Drink From The Porron

Sweet Wines: bucking the trends

Trends in the wine business are constantly changing. I always view these movements with an eye on the history of this industry. We have moved away from big, rich red wines (remember phenolic ripeness?) to thin lean reds; from big rich Chardonnays to lean Melon de Bourgognes. Today, with a growing number of directions, what drives me more each day is not looking at trends but simple constants that are always obvious. Well-crafted products always prevail over the trends.

One category that is definitely not trendy is sweet wines. I am not talking about wines or other products that use sugar to disguise defects. I am talking about wines where natural sugars are part of the balance and structure. These wines with sugar have had in history an incredibly important role: the wine of Henri IV was Jurançon, the wines of Sherry always included a sweet category.

We have forgotten these great wines and how delightful they can be at any point in a meal. As an aperitif, a wine with sweetness can be a great starter but they also have a place at any point and time at a table. Cheeses and charcuterie can be delicious with wines that have a fair amount of residual sugar. Very spicy foods are a perfect conduit for a delicious sweet wine. But the most overlooked area where the wines fit in is at the end of a meal to satisfy our urge for something sweet.

In our office we have a chocolate drawer. It is always being ransacked, especially after lunch. For the most part we all love to finish our meals with a touch of sweetness and the chocolates always fulfill that desire (when a wine is not appropriate). In the same spirit, wines with a sweetness can be a great way to complete a great dining experience.

I see a return to these wines coinciding with our need to recapture the essence of the classic dining experience. A return to a slower pace of contemplation. A place where a meal starts with an aperitif, a discussion ensues, a second course follows and a third course. Time slowly winds its way until we find ourselves at the end of the evening and the logical conclusion is a wine of contemplation.

We have some incredible offerings this fall along with our classic mainstays. This holiday season is the perfect time to rediscover things that should always be a part of our culinary tradition.

- André Tamers

Sweet Wines of De Maison Selections

Molino Real, M.R.: a modern take on the traditional sweet wines of Málaga. The Moscatel grapes are dried on reed mats in the sun before being pressed and fermented.

Molino Real: also made from sun-dried Moscatel grapes, this wine comes from a single parcel and is fermented and aged in barrel.

Clos Guirouilh, Jurançon: a classic, impeccably balanced expression of a terroir renowned for centuries for its sweet wines, made with grapes left to hang on the vines until late in the fall, exposed to the warm, dry Foehn wind.

Clos Guirouilh, Vendanges Tardives: a luscious sweet wine, only made in the best vintages from grapes left to dry on the vines until early winter.

Clos Guirouilh, Petit Cuyalàa: a single-vineyard expression of the Vendanges Tardives style from an exceptional terraced plot.

César Florido, Moscatel Dorado: this Moscatel comes from famous vineyards in the Chipiona region of Sherry country.

César Florido, Moscatel Especial: arope (must reduced through cooking) is added after fermentation to add another layer of flavors in this special expression of Chipiona Moscatel.

César Florido Moscatel Pasas: made from Moscatel grapes dried in the sandy flats close to the ocean.

César Florido, Crus del Mar Cream: dry Oloroso and sweet Moscatel are blended and aged in solera for 7 years in this unusual take on the cream style.

El Maestro Sierra, Pedro Ximénez: this Pedro Ximénez is aged for 15 years in the solera system.

El Maestro Sierra, Pedro Ximénez Viejisimo: this wine has spent at least 50 years in the solera system, with the exact age hard to determine since the solera has been there as long as anyone can remember.