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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Sweet and Rich Pairing

Château Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes 2006

Thomas Matthews
Posted: September 10, 2010

The sweet white wines of Sauternes, in Bordeaux, have somewhat fallen out of favor, but when I received a gift of a bloc of foie gras, I decided to invite some friends for a sweet and rich party. We spread the buttery liver on toast, and also served Roquefort (a classic match with Sauternes) along with prosciutto wrapped around chunks of peach and watermelon.

Sauternes is made from grapes (mostly Sémillon) that have been dehydrated and concentrated on the vine through the beneficial attack of “noble rot,” otherwise known as botrytis. The shriveled berries are pressed, and the sugar-rich juice produces a sweet, spicy, luscious white wine.

Roumieu-Lacoste is a small estate located in the village of Barsac (and would therefore be entitled to use that as its appellation); its owner, Hervé Dubordieu, is part of a deeply rooted and highly successful family of vignerons in the area. I found a half-bottle of his 2006 vintage for $22 at my local retailer. It’s still young, but appealing for its apricot, honey and vanilla flavors. I rated it 88 points, non-blind.

We may not think of sweet wine as a good match to savory foods, but there is something about the unctuous texture of both Sauternes and foie gras that makes them irresistible together. Ditto with the blue cheese, where it’s the contrast of sharp and sweet that works so well. And the salty ham emphasized the ripeness of the peaches and brought out peach flavors in the wine. Enjoyed in the drowsy heat of a late summer afternoon, the feast put us all in a sweet, happy mood.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac.

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