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Matchmaker: Poached Pineapple With Sauternes

Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year and its peers celebrate sweet success with a tropical dessert

Nick Fauchald
Posted: December 3, 2004

The two traditional Sauternes pairings--Roquefort or foie gras--are wonderful, but can fluster diners who want to drink their dessert wine with dessert. And with the remarkable roster of bottles from the 2001 Sauternes vintage, these wines deserve to be the last thing you taste after a memorable meal (even alone, they will guarantee the meal's success).

The 2001 Sauternes vintage was especially blessed with botrytis' noble kiss and produced many notable bottles, including our Wine of the Year from Château Rieussec and two more in Wine Spectator's Top 100: No. 9 Château Suduiraut and No. 23 Château Guiraud.

To celebrate the sweet success of this year's Wine Spectator Wine of the Year, try this simple poached pineapple, a zingy tropical alternative to the ubiquitous poached pear.

Wine Pairing

The flavors in this dessert echo some of the notes commonly found in a glass of Sauternes: honey, vanilla, cinnamon and citrus fruits. Served warm or chilled, the poached pineapple will intermingle with a Sauternes' best qualities, without becoming too cloying or rich. The wine is the star in this pairing and won't be usurped by its understudy.

I've included some of the best and most widely available bottles from the 2001 Sauternes exceptional vintage, but many other late-harvest and botrytized white dessert wines will provide equally luscious matches.

Recipe: Poached Pineapple With Pineapple Chips and Vanilla Ice Cream
Serves 4

For the poached pineapple:
1 pineapple, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half
Zest and juice of one orange
Zest and juice of one lemon
Vanilla ice cream

For the pineapple chips:
1/2 pineapple, quartered lengthwise, cored and sliced very thin (about 1/16 inch thick)
Confectioners' sugar

To make the chips:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Lay the pineapple slices on a nonstick or Silpat-lined sheet pan and dust generously with confectioners' sugar. Bake until slices are dry and lightly browned, about 80 minutes. Remove the slices from the sheet pan while they're still warm.

To make the poached pineapple:
Meanwhile, bring water, sugar, honey, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, citrus juices and zest to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower heat to a simmer and add the cubed pineapple. Gently simmer the pineapple for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pineapple and strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve. If the syrup is runny, return it to heat and simmer until reduced to desired consistency. Return pineapple to the syrup and refrigerate until chilled. (Although best served cold, this dessert is tasty at any temperature.) Serve with ice cream and garnish with pineapple chips.


Wine Score Price
CHÂTEAU RIEUSSEC Sauternes 2001 100 $80
Like lemon curd on the nose, turning to honey and caramel. Full-bodied and very sweet, with fantastic concentration of ripe and botrytized fruit, yet balanced and refined. Electric acidity. Lasts for minutes on the palate. This is absolutely mind-blowing. This is the greatest young Sauternes I have ever tasted. Best after 2010. 12,500 cases made. --J.S.
CHÂTEAU SUDUIRAUT Sauternes 2001 98 $65
Gorgeous aromas of honey, passion fruit, mango and candied lemon rind. Full-bodied and ultraconcentrated, yet balanced and refined. It lasts for minutes on the palate. This has just about everything in the right place. Stunning. Best after 2009. 6,665 cases made. --J.S.
Smells like pure caramel with just a hint of dried apricot. Full-bodied, ultrasweet and fabulously concentrated. This goes on for minutes. Coats your palate but shows fab acidity. Big, juicy young sticky. Best after 2010. 2,275 cases made. --J.S.
CHÂTEAU GUIRAUD Sauternes 2001 96 $50
Golden yellow. Butterscotch and vanilla, with hints of ripe apples. Full-bodied, with lots of sweetness and a spicy apricot and honey aftertaste. Excellent concentration and balance. Loads of botrytis character on the finish. Intense. Hard not to drink now because it's so luscious and rich. Best after 2008. 11,665 cases made. --J.S.
CHÂTEAU SUAU Barsac 2001 90 $14
Golden-colored, with intense aromas of dried lemons, honey, light syrup and vanilla. Full-bodied, with beautiful fruit and medium sweetness. Rich and almost round textured. Already delicious. Best after 2008. 1,665 cases made. --J.S.

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