Tuesday, November 24, 2020


Every now and then we come across something in life that blows us away. An experience, a place, a feeling, words we hear or read, a new discovery... something truly sensational and special. For me, most recently, it was sweet wine from Bordeaux. A gorgeous tipple in various equally gorgeous shades of gold. Indian or Byzantine jewellery gold - warm, rich, exotic gold that makes you want to have some. Most of us might be familiar with Sauternes, the prized sweet wine from the Left Bank of Bordeaux. The Sauternes that is Chateau d'Yquem. But few know that there are 9 other appellations in Bordeaux that make sweet wines as well. This month the French #winophiles are exploring those other sweet Bordeaux appellations. Many of us were fortunate to receive four wine samples thanks to Jeff. Read the preview by Linda to know more and then join us on 21 Nov. 2020 at 8 AM PST on Twitter under #winophiles to hear what everyone is saying and pairing with these versatile wines! Don't forget to check out all the blog entries for pairing ideas, recipes, tasting notes, and photos:

  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Surprise! Pairing Spicy and Savory Dishes with Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Terri at Our Good Life: “Spicy Hot Tacos and Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Martin at ENOFYLZ: “Pairing Sweet Bordeaux with Southern Fare”
  • Lauren at The Swirling Dervish: “Golden Bordeaux Meets Savory Pumpkin and Smoked Bacon Tart: a Delicious Thanksgiving Twist!”
  • David at Cooking Chat: “Pairings for Sweet Bordeaux Wine”
  • Katrina at The Corkscrew Concierge: “Golden Bordeaux Delights in Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Cuisine”
  • Payal at Keep the Peas: “Four Sweet Bordeaux Wines with Four Courses”
  • Jane at Always Ravenous: “Golden Sweet Bordeaux Wines: Tasting and Pairings”
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: “Hot Chocolate and Halva Pudding paired with Lion De Tanesse L’Amour”
  • Jeff at foodwineclick: “Sweet Bordeaux Meets the Smoke”
  • Jill at L’OCCASION : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Aren’t Just for Dessert”
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest: “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Get Savory Pairings”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen: “Sweet Bordeaux Is A Sweet Delight – Savor These Perfect Food Pairings”
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles: “Sweet Bordeaux Wines and pairings from opposite sides of the globe”
  • Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings: “Sweet Bordeaux Paired with Asian Carbs – Chinese Sticky Rice and Korean Japchae”
  • Susannah at avvinare: “Delightful Sweet Wines from Bordeaux”
  • Nicole at Somm’s Table: “Château Loupiac Gaudiet with Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée”
  • Gwendolyn at wine predator: “Successful Pairings of Salty and Savory with Sweet Semi-Dry Bordeaux”
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels: “A Look Into the Sweeter Side of Bordeaux Wines”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass: “Appetizers, entrées and yes, dessert please, with sweet Bordeaux”

The sweet wines of Bordeaux are rare and selective white wines that pair with sweet and savoury foods alike. As the map from the official Sweet Bordeaux website shows, the wines are made in southern Bordeaux on both sides of the Garonne river in diverse terrain, soil, and microclimates that yield diverse wines. Amongst the 10 Appellations d'Origine Controlée (AOC) you are sure to find an estate that makes wine that pairs splendidly with whatever you're putting on the table that day. But there is unity in diversity and these wines have a few things in common:
  • Grapes are left on the vine to get infected by noble rot (Bortytis Cinerea fungus)
  • Slow gentle harvest by hand often done in several passes to select the ripest grapes
  • Slow vinification, gentle maturation in vats or oak barrels
  • Unfortified (no additional spirit is added to the wine after it reaches a certain sugar level)
  • 1% of total Bordeaux wine volume
  • 2% of total Bordeaux wine area
  • Approx. 9M bottles across 350 estates
  • ~1 grape vine = 1 glass of wine
  • 3 main grape varieties: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
  • Two categories based on residual sugar (RS) in the wine: molleux (12-45 g/L) and liquoreux (>45 g/L)
  • The wines offer tremendous variety in aroma and tasting notes and price points. This makes for a very rich selection available for pairing with a vast number of foods, cuisines, and cooking methods
  • Both molleux and liquoreux wines are excellent in cocktails. In this day and age where cocktail making ranges from mixing soda water with whiskey to total alchemy, sweet Bordeaux wines invite creative cocktails.
Botrytis on grapes (https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com)


I received four bottles of sweet Bordeaux wine and the one way to do justice to a diverse array of wines all from one general area was to pair them with a diverse
 array of food at dinner. We paired each wine with four courses over dinner: starter, entrée, main, dessert. 

For our starter we went with oysters dressed with nothing but a spritz of lemon. Back in the day in Bordeaux no dinner party began without a palate opener of briny Bordelaise oyters and sweet wine. In the US, west coast oysters are abundant but not briny enough to walk with the semi-dry or sweet wines of Bordeaux. I happened to see fresh east coast oysters at the market and I just had to. So I got three different varieties, in decreasing brininess: Cotuit, Wellfleet, and Moondancer. And my kind fishmonger graciously shucked and arranged them on a tray of crushed ice, so it was a snap to get this starter ready to enjoy with two sweet Bordeaux wines - one liquoreux and one molleux.

The molleux was certainly the lighter match of the two and paired splendidly with the Cotuits but the liquoreux was right there to complement the Wellfleets and Moondancers. The lemon rounded everything up quite nicely. The acidity of the wines and lemon was perfect with the seafoam brininess of the oysters. I suspect that both wines would have overpowered west coast oysters but were indeed superb with east coast oysters.

2014 Château du Cros, Loupiac AOC (SRP $30)
90/5/5 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle
14% ABV | Sample
Notes: Beautiful gold colour with white flowers, citrus blossoms, apricots, honey, tropical fruits, candied citrus on the nose and palate. A supple silky mouthfeel but light at the same time. A medium+ finish with a slight hint of baking spice on the taper.

2019 Château La Hargue Bordeaux Blanc Molleux (SRP $15)
50/50 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
11% ABV | Sample
Notes: Brilliant pale  gold colour with lemon curd, vanilla, tropical fruit, on the nose and palate. Overall a not too complex but balanced, light, wine with a faint hint of stony minerality to end the medium finish.

As our appetiser or entrée, we had a couple of different street food snacks typical to northern and western India. We've finally found two quick service places that come close to the authentic flavours of their respective cuisines. 
This time we settled on two snacks typical to New Delhi/Punjab and Mumbai. Two places that are polar opposites in language, food, culture, clothing, weather, and everything else. Street food in India, as in all of Asia and somewhat Central America too, is endless and different as night and day from region to region. Even town to town. So it is really fun to make a meal entirely of street food.

And because the flavours are complex and fresh, coming up with wine and cocktail pairings is just as much fun as is drinking them! We had bread pakoras (Delhi) and vada pãu (Mumbai). Bread pakoras are two slices of bread slathered with mint-cilantro chutney, stuffed with seasoned mashed peas and potatoes, dipped in a chickpea flour batter, deep fried, and served with a couple of different chutneys on the side. Vada pãu is a roll split and seasoned with garlic chutney and stuffed with a fried mashed potato cutlet/fritter/vada. Generally served with fried green chillies on the side - I skipped those because in the US they use Thai chillies which just do not go well with vada pãu - it is not supposed to have heat, just flavours of the spices used in it. Incidentally, this street food dish came about after the Portuguese introduced leavened bread to western India. The bread pakora and vada pãu are both very flavourful and have just enough spices to pair superbly with the Château du Cros. The bright acidity, residual sugar, and floral-citrus notes of the wine balance out the complex flavours of the herbs and spices in the food. 

2014 Château du Cros, Loupiac AOC (SRP $30)
Notes: see above

Next we had Kerala egg curry with homemade layered wholewheat flatbread/parantha and plantain chips on the side. Kerala is a coastal state and heaven if you love seafood, meat, and coconut in all forms. It is also one of the few states in India where the literacy rate is very high and beef is freely eaten - much of the rest of India is too busy making beef a political/religious agenda so they're freely arguing about beef and religion. In any case this egg curry is an Indian-Jewish dis
h adapted from
Spice & Kosher - Exotic Cuisine of the Cochin Jews. Jews came to southern India, particularly Kerala, hundreds of years ago for trade and to escape persecution in Spain and Portugal.

They made Kerala their home and as the Jewish diaspora always does, adapted local cuisine to meet Kosher needs. This egg curry is flavourful and balanced - coconut milk, Asian shallots, garlic, turmeric, and other spices cook into a silky sauce that is perfect for equally benign boiled eggs and the paranthas are light with the slight nuttiness of Indian sharbati wheat. I also added some peas to the curry because we're getting into pea season and I couldn't resist. Indian food has lots of complex spice combinations but it is generally not spicy - extra heat is never the norm, always a matter of preference. The layered flavours of the velvety sauce were perfect with the minerality and bright notes of the Château La Rame. The Château La Hargue was an ok pairing - wouldn't be my first choice for this dish the next time. The velvety texture of the sauce was a bit too contrasted with the light mouthfeel of the La Hargue. 

2016 Château La Rame, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont AOC (SRP $35)
95/5 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
13% ABV | Sample
Notes: Medium gold colour with an appealing bouquet of faint spice, candied citrus peel, white flowers, and vanilla in the background. Same on the palate along with a racy acidity and minerality. Overall a delightfully balanced and elegant wine with a medium-long finish.

2019 Château La Hargue Bordeaux Blanc Molleux (SRP $15)
Notes: see above

Since it was just past Diwali, the Hindu New Year and festival of lights and levity, we had a great selection of sweets from northern and eastern India at home. So dessert was a nibble of two of those with two utterly delicious Loupiac AOC wines. Both desserts are milk-based: one is a fudgy confection of milk cooked down into solids, mixed with sugar, ground cashews, saffron (and maybe a few other things, not sure) then topped with silver foil. The other is a light ricotta-based dumpling soaked in a light sugar syrup then squeezed to remove the extra syrup. In this case it was also stuffed with a saffron cream.

In my opinion pairing dessert with sweet wines is tricky. Those with an intense sweet-tooth might love the pairing but I've generally found it cloying. So milk-based desserts that are not overly sugary are a great match. The acidity of the wines matches the creaminess of the milk and makes the pairing quite a delight. And of course, most Indian sweets are generally just 2-3 bite servings and redolent with saffron, cashews, almonds, pistachios, rose water, orange water, and other flowers so bright liquoreux wines like these from Loupiac AOC are a lovely combination. A perfect way to end a meal, really.

2015 Château Dauphiné Rondillon "Cuvée d'Or", Loupiac AOC (SRP $42)
80/20 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
13% ABV | Sample
Notes: Gorgeous rich gold colour with a fragrant nose and palate full of bright citrus juice, marmalade, candied citrus, and orange blossoms with a light woodiness at the end. Medium+ acidity, rich mouthfeel, overall a very balanced wine. Juicy medium bodied wine with a long elegant finish.

2014 Château du Cros, Loupiac AOC (SRP $30)
Notes: see above


  1. I've never thought of pairing oysters with sweet wine but now I'm determined to try them together! And I love the two Indian dishes side by side - delicious. But you had me in the first paragraph, where you described the wines in different shades of gold jewelry. Such a lovely way to put it!

    1. Yes, briny oysters with a sweet wine that has an acidic edge is just lovely!

  2. I, too, tried a curry pairing and was disappointed. Next time!! And I would LOVE your Diwali sweets recipes if you're sharing.

    1. Oh sorry to hear that... with Indian food flavours generally vary with the type of curry, the season it is meant for, and spices-meat-vegetables used. I'm always happy to share any of my recipes. But I did not make the Diwali sweets... most people buy them from shops that specialise in them because they have the proper tools and I did that too.

  3. I love the rich history of the dishes that you paired with these wines. This also reminded me of how oysters, can be so different. It's so interesting how one wine pairs with one type of oyster and not another.

    1. Thank you! Yes it never fails to amaze me how much subtlety raw ingredients have and the impact on the final dish.

  4. Wow, a virtual feast and it seems as though you found the best wine for each dish.

  5. And look at your Botrytis photo! Each time I read one of your articles with Indian foods (that's almost every one ;-) I've gotten items and made a dish. Here the Kerala sounds especially interesting. Curious if you've ever done it with a poached egg?

    1. Oh wow that's superb! There is a version of egg drop curry in which the eggs cook in the sauce. Hard poached eggs could work instead, but soft poached would just let the yolk mix with the sauce and that would not taste good. Let me know if you try it!

  6. I love what you've done with these pairings, enjoying them throughout the meal. I have to admit that I wouldn't have thought of these as an option for oysters, but am interested to try it out. As well, I can absolutely imagine the wines the Loupiac being a heavenly match with the dessert flavored with saffron and spice! Please send!;-)

    1. Sweet wines and oysters are terrific together! It's a classic Bordelaise pairing but those are briny oysters so in the US east coast oysters work well.

  7. Wow, this post was worth waiting for! Love the history and cultural traditions presented as well as the culinary ideas. Especially intrigued by the Indian-Jewish egg curry. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Aw thank you. Yes Indian Jewish cuisine is not as well known as it should be, and has a rich legacy.

  8. Your four-course meal looks and sounds divine Payal. I love oysters, but have yet to try it with a Sweet Bordeaux wine. I'll have to keep the brininess in mind! Great post!

  9. Love your feast of pairings! I did not know that west coast oysters are less briny... I need to get my fish monger to shuck the oysters, it is why I tend not to buy them, but enjoy eating them. Time for oysters and Sweet Bordeaux.

    1. Thank you! Yes getting them shucked is so much easier than doing it yourself!