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Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

A Sweet Wine with Cigar Box Spices

Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes 1988

James Laube
Posted: February 3, 2009

I don't smoke, and I'm not a big dessert wine drinker. But I love sniffing a fresh, unlit cigar, and there's nothing quite like a mature Sauternes. In fact, I find real similarities in their perfumes.

Recently, one of my friends uncorked a special bottle from his cellar, a 1988 Château La Tour Blanche. The first aromas reminded me of that fresh tobacco leaf and cigar box spiciness that comes with a great Cuban cigar. It's an aroma I often find in mature Sauternes (and often aged red Bordeaux as well).

The 1988 vintage was an excellent year for Sauternes. I tasted this wine in its infancy with my colleague James Suckling in 1990 in Bordeaux. Now it's medium-bodied, pale yellow gold in color, and offering touches of fig, dried apricot and citrus. The fresh, unlit tobacco scent of a newly unwrapped cigar proved the most captivating element. We scored it 89 points on release, and I gave it the same score non-blind now. It's ready to drink, not likely to improve, but it won't fade away for years.

Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes 1988 (89, $32 on release)

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