Answer: Sweet Bordeaux | Question: Which French Wine Pairs with Salty, Savory and Heat?

Category: Delicious Wine and Food Pairings

Since last year, I have found myself drinking more sweet white wines. And not with or as dessert. I've become quite fond of pairing sweet and medium sweet white wines with lunch and dinner.

Not any sweet wine will do. You need a quality wine with complexity, sugar yes, but the wine also needs balanced acidity to match with the food. And the wine must be tasty too. I'm referring to the sweet white wines of Bordeaux, France.


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Sweet Bordeaux wines deepen in color with age.

Sweet Bordeaux white wines are made with a combination of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes.These wines are quite sweet, with balanced acidity, so many of these wines can be long lived in the wine cellar, even decades. As these wines age, you will notice that their color deepens to a beautiful deep gold. Even though these are age worthy wines, they can be quite approachable and food friendly when young. Yes they can.


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Tasting and pairing through eight sweet Bourdeaux wines.

Today, I will share with you my thoughts on eight different sweet white Bordeaux wines. Vintages range from a 2016 Grand Vin de Bordeaux to a 2006 Sauternes. Each wine will also be paired with salty, savory and spicy food. I will point out which wines paired well with which type of food and which did not. This was a satisfying experience. If you are looking for that perfect wine for your holiday meals, then I have many golden recommendations for you.

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These wines were tasted in the context of a virtual wine tasting courtesy snooth.com we used #GoGoldenBordeaux for our social media communications.

- William

Why Salty, Savory and Heat?

Salty: 

The contrast of salty and sweet enhances the flavor of the food. If you have ever salted melon, then you know that the salt makes the melon even tastier. It brings out and enhances the flavor of the sweet fruit. It also works this way with Sweet Bordeaux wines.

Savory: 

When you match savory and salty foods with sweet Bordeaux wines, you are elevating the wine and food pairing experience. Yes, the food is tasty, yes the wine is tasty, but together they may become even better. An "elevated" pairing is when the wine and food both taste better together.

Heat: 

Sweet and heat just go together. There's a dazzling way that heat is subdued by sweet Bordeaux wines. Have you ever had fresh mango dusted with chili powder and salt? Or how about hot chocolate with chili powder? Yum and yum!


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Map: 10 Appellations for Sauternes and Sweet Bordeaux.

What is Sweet Bordeaux?

Bordeaux is a vast area and has many appellations, referred to as an AOC. Sweet Bordeaux wines have been affected by Noble Rot, the wines which originate from a specific region or area in Bordeaux, other than the Sauternes AOC (AOC Cadillac, AOC Loupiac, AOC Sainte Croix Du Mont, etc.) must meet strict production norms, and are officially recognized only after tasting and analysis.

"'Noble Rot' is associated with a process that happens to grapes creating a distinctive, concentrated, exotic, honey flavored wine with a crisp, acidic finish. Through the magic of nature, this royal rot is what we have to thank for Bordeaux’s signature sweet white wines, most often referred to as Sauternes." - Bordeaux Magazine, August 2016

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The many golden shades of Sweet Bordeaux.

The Wines, Tasting Notes and Food Pairings

Note: Wines are listed in the order in which we tasted during the virtual wine tasting. 
Note: Wines marked with an asterisk "*" were my favorites of this tasting.

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Chateau Manos Cadillac 2016 Grand Vin de Bordeaux - Strongly Recommended.

1. Chateau Manos Cadillac 2016 Grand Vin de Bordeaux - Strongly Recommended

Located in the commune of Haux, on top of a round hill, Château Manos is a neighbour of Château Lamothe, which took over management starting in 1991. The Néel-Chombart family is in charge of viticulture, wine making, and sales of this wine, which takes advantage of the fame of its older brother, Sauternes. www.chateau-lamothe.com

Nose: Honey comb, lemon, reminds me of a hot toddy, alfalfa blossom, dusty, toast, medium plus intensity.

Palate: Medium plus body, honey comb, lemon, lightly nutty, medium plus intensity, creamy on tongue, balanced acidity with sweetness on medium plus finish. Like. Not overly sweet, balanced, honeyed with a buoyant freshness, and a really nice finish.

Day 3: Apricot preserve dominates with a lovely focused sweet honeycomb flavor, touch of crème brule, not heavy, fresh, medium weight, light toasty nuttiness and cotton candy with a lovely lingering finish. Very drinkable, but wants food for me.

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Shredded chicken enchiladas enjoyed with 2016 Chateau Manos.

Pairings:
  • Fried Chicken: No, wine too sweet, did not match.
  • Coleslaw: Yes, flavors work, texture works too. Spicy cabbage matched sweet well. Like.
  • Calabrese Spicy Salami: Yes, savory, spicy a good match to the wine. Good contrast, complimentary. Like.
  • Sweet Potato Crackers: Not bad.
  • 3 Seed Beet Crackers: Nice contrast, like a lot.
  • Chicken Chips Jalapeno: Yes, yes, yes! Heat, salt, heat, savory. Yum.
  • Shredded Chicken Enchiladas: Added jalapeno hot pepper to my enchiladas, that bite of heat matched well with this wine. 

Thoughts: This wine was meant for hot and spicy foods. It also matched the creaminess of the slaw, and was quite good with the savory beet crackers. The wine I had leftover, I eventually paired with shredded chicken enchiladas I made at home. The jalapeno hot pepper, savory cheeses, spicy enchilada sauce, all made for a good pairing with the Chateau Manos. This wine wants that spice and heat.
Strongly Recommended.

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux, AOC Cadillac
Blend: 95% Semillon, 2.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 2.5% Muscadelle
ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Agglomerated cork
Sample provided by snooth.com

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Château Loupiac-Gaudiet 2016 - Strongly Recommended.

2. Château Loupiac-Gaudiet 2016 - Strongly Recommended

At Château Loupiac-Gaudiet we build all our wines around the alchemy between fruit, sugar and acidity which allows each vintage to be able to reveal at is best all the freshness and the aromatic power. This traditional “savoir faire” associate to moderns technical manners of production, allows us to obtain an easy to drink and easy to pair wine for all year long. Owner: Daniel Sanfourche.

Nose: Floral, mineral, medium plus intensity, peeled ripe peach, honey, ripe citrus.

Palate: Full bodied, creamy quality, orange marmalade, yum, brioche, medium plus intensity, sweet, honeyed tangerine on the medium plus finish. Very good at open.

Day Two: Sweet, apricot juice, ripe peach, did not feel heavy, balanced acidity with the sweetness. Quite enjoyable. Ready to pair with anything wanting apricot or peach.

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Pairing choices, fried pork chop, sauteed shrimp, cheeses.

Pairings:

  • Pork Chop: Yes, works well.
  • Shrimp: Yum, yum.
  • Cheese Comte: Just okay.
  • Cheese Triple Cream Mushroom: Yum, good match.

Thoughts: A young vintage, which is ready for food and drinking. The salty fried pork chops were a good match with this wine. And the shrimp, also a good match (the shrimp were sauteed in EVO, ginger, chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt.) It also matched wonderfully with a creamy and savory cheese. Think Cheese Fondue! Pair with foods you would cook with apple, peach or apricot.
Strongly Recommended: For pork chops, spicy shrimp, cheese Fondue and BLT.

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux, AOC Loupiac
Average vine age 45 years
Blend: 90% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc
ABV: 13%
Closure: Natural Cork
SRP: $17
Sample provided by snooth.com

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Chateau la Rame Sainte Croix du Mont 2015 - Highly Recommended, especially with hot sauce.

*3. Chateau la Rame Sainte Croix du Mont 2015 - Highly Recommended

Situated 40 kilometers southeast of the city of Bordeaux, Chateau La Rame is among the oldest and most renowned properties in the Sainte Croix du Mont appellation. The house and chai sit on a hill overlooking the Garonne River.

Nose: Minerality, honeycomb, deep orange marmalade, lifted aroma of floral perfume,

Palate: Apricot, pineapple and peach, juicy, focused to front, easy sipping at open, creamy, nice balance, medium plus intensity, tasty lingering finish. A lip smacker.

Day three: Medium intensity on the nose, perfumed, star anise, touch of clove, poached pear. Like. Medium plus body, sweet in a wonderful way, poached pear with clove, honey, deep focus to front, yum, captivating, long finish. MY SPEED. Tastes like the holidays.

Pairings:

  • The nose...showed intense and distracted from the food. Need more intense food.
  • Also – wonderful palate cooler after too intense food, helped with tingle from hot sauce.
  • Fried Chicken: Works, but needs hot sauce, that helped. A bit heavy for food, but worked.
  • Coleslaw: Works, but a bit heavy for food.
  • Calabrese Spicy Salami: Oh hell yes, rocked this pairing!
  • *Sweet Potato Crackers: Good palate cleanser, all about the lovely wine, and broke up the heat from those hot crackers. So a big like!
  • 3 Seed Beet Crackers: Shows off the sweet wine, nice background munchie.
  • Chicken Chips Jalapeno: Salty + Hot. Yummy with wine, all about the wine, with background heat.
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Sweet Potato cracker, 3 Beet cracker, Jalapeno Chicken Chips.

Thoughts: This wine is far more intense and heavy than the previous wines. Therefore, it needs more intense foods and seasoning. If you want to go large, feel free to amp up the spice and heat with the 2015 Chateau la Rame Sainte Croix du Mont. I had to add hot sauce to the chicken to match the intensity of the wine, which I typically do anyway. Pair with your favorite spicy cuisine, think barbecue, robust, spicy Italian cuisine, hot wings and Cajun cooking. Yeah mama! Also, use after heavy, spicy meals to cool down and refresh. Complex wine, which makes for a satisfying evening sipper. For me, this wine has it all. Bravo!
Highly Recommended.

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux, AOC Sainte Croix Du Mont (highest AOC in region)
Blend: 100% Semillon, 70% stainless, 30% oak
ABV: 13%
RS: 13.2%
Closure: 2+1
SRP: $22/375 ml and $32/750 ml
Sample provided by snooth.com

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Château du Cros Loupiac 2014 - Strongly Recommended + lovely patio sipper.

4. Château du Cros Loupiac 2014 - Strongly Recommended

In 1322, Bernard de Segur obtained permission from King Edward II to fortify the Castle by surrounding it with a limestone wall. Located on the heights of Loupiac, overlooking the Garonne valley, the castle became a strategic stronghold, and took the name Chateau du Cros. Today, this estate belongs to the Boyer family, under the leadership of Catherine Boyer. Christophe Blanchet is vineyard manager and Henry Boyer, her brother, is the oenologist. www.chateauducros.com

Nose: Intense nose, minerality, with honey and mushroom.

Palate: Apricot, honey, sweet, touch of mushroom, tingle of acid in back, long finish. Like.

Day Three: Intense sweet minerality on the nose. Rich, deep flavors, concentrated honey blended with ripe apricot and ripe peach, citrus, lemon and grapefruit, juicy, focus to middle, heavier than the 2016 Chateau Manos, hint of savory on the long delicious finish. Damn fine patio sipper on a windy November afternoon. Big like.

Pairings:

  • Fried Chicken: No, wine too heavy and unctuous.
  • Coleslaw: Yes, creamy, sweet slaw matched well.
  • Calabrese Spicy Salami: Yes, good match.
  • Sweet Potato Crackers: Okay, not special, fine.
  • 3 Seed Beet Crackers: Nice, have to try real beets. Friendly.
  • Chicken Chips Jalapeno: Heat sneaks up, tasty pairing. Yum.
  • Patio Sipper: Yes! This wine was lovely on a windy day. Big like.
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Lovely patio sipper, the 2014 Chateau du Cros.

Thoughts: Good match to hot and spicy. I was intrigued by the beet crackers, I would like to try pairing with cooked beets, Borscht or a beet salad. Cellar for 10 – 15 years. Also wonderful without food as a patio sipper.
Strongly Recommended.

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux, AOC Loupiac
Blend: Semillon 90%, Sauvignon Blanc 5%, Muscadelle 5%
12 months in French oak barrels (1/3 new barrels)
ABV: 13%
Closure: Natural Cork
Sample provided by snooth.com

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Chateau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac 2011 - Highly Recommended.

5. Chateau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac 2011 - Highly Recommended

Château Dauphiné-Rondillon has been owned by the same family for eight generations. The exceptional location of the vineyard (on the top of the “Rondillon” hill) allows the production of a fine and elegant noble late harvest wine. In 1927, Château Dauphiné-Rondillon was one of the first châteaux to commercialize their wine in bottles instead of in barrels and are appreciated as much as the most prestigious Sauternes.
  • Note: 2011 and 2007 were fantastic vintages. Shows in this wine. 

Nose: Layered, intense, apricot preserve, honey comb with sesame seed, orange blossom.

Palate: Medium intensity, viscous, focused, delicate apricot preserve, sweet, lightly toasted nuts, minerality, gentle tingle of acid, textured, with dried mango, juicy peach, grapefruit, lemon and orange marmalade on the long finish. Like.

Day Three: Medium minus intensity on the nose, toasty, earthy mushroom, sweet perfume. Good weight, medium plus body, nougat, almond liqueur, focus to front, yum, tootsie roll on the lingering finish. MY SPEED. Enjoyed this wine. First bottle to empty too.

Pairings:

  • Fried Chicken: Yes, works well, wine is focused and matches savory chicken.
  • Coleslaw: Yes, good match.
  • Calabrese Spicy Salami: Oh yes, yum, good match.
  • Sweet Potato Crackers: Rather plain, wants cheese or toppings, good base, not bad with wine, just okay.
  • 3 Seed Beet Crackers: Yes, good match. Friendly.
  • Chicken Chips Jalapeno: Heat and salt match fairly well, not as well as other wines, more delicate, crackers too intense for this wine. Nose dripping.

Thoughts: Wonderful food wine. Matched the savory fried chicken, creamy coleslaw, and the spicy salami. And it was DELICIOUS all on its own. I think you don't want to go too hot with seasoning, just subtle heat for this wine. Let it show off and compliment your savory or spicy meals. Think chicken, pork, creamy cheese, and other savory dishes. Spicy Italian dishes would be good matches too. Also perfect after dinner too. Really enjoyed this wine.
Highly Recommended.

Country: France
Region: Bourdeaux, AOC Loupiac
Blend: Semillon 80%, Sauvignon Blanc 20%
ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Sample provided by snooth.com

Characteristics of Sauternes include the balance of sweetness with the freshness of acidity. Typical flavors include: apricots, honey, dried pineapple, and peaches with a nutty note and extended finish. Sauternes are some of the longest-lived wines, with premium examples having the potential to age many decades.
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Chateau Lapinesse Bordeaux Sauternes 2016 - Recommended.

6. Chateau Lapinesse Bordeaux Sauternes 2016 - Recommended.

The Pinesse was nothing more than a small piece of land, so-called "La Pièce" before the plantation of the Landes Forest. Initiated by Napolean III in the middle of the 19th century, it is today the largest artificial forest in Western Europe. Most of the vineyards of Château Lapinesse, are located in Barsac whose terroir offers minerality and acidity. This wine is from a small, family owned producer. www.vignobles-siozard.com

Nose: Citrus, toasty honey, orange blossom, medium intensity.

Palate: Creamy, medium plus body, vanilla taffy with orange, sweet, with an herbal note I like, chamomile tea, tingle on tongue on the long finish. Not overly complex, but tasty and easy to drink. Yum.

Day Two: Lost bottle. Fell and broke. :(

Pairings:

  • Cheese Comte: Yes! A wave of delicate sweetness washed across the cheese. Yum.
  • Cheese Triple Cream Mushroom: No. Mushroom added a bitter note I did not like.
  • Pork Chop: No. Did not work, brought an unpleasant bitter edge.
  • Shrimp: Yes! Complimentary flavors. The pepper flakes and sweet wine tie together beautifully. Brought out some spicy notes in the wine. Good pairing.

Thoughts: Young wine, needs 5-10 years to show best. Pair with soft, creamy cheese. If you enjoy pouring honey over certain cheese, then skip the honey and pair with this wine. Also, think spicy seafood. Spicy Cioppino or Bouillabaisse would be fun to try with this Sauternes.
Recommended.

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First time I lost a bottle.

  • Note: Sadly, I lost this bottle taking photos outside on a too windy afternoon. It is quite likely I would have rated this wine higher, if I had been able to taste and pair on days two and three. Apologies. First time this has happened. Let's not do that again. 

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux, AOC Sauternes
Blend: 100% Semillon, 12 months in stainless
ABV: 14%
Closure: Agglomerated cork
Sample provided by snooth.com

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Château Filhot Sauternes 2015 - Highly Recommended.

*7. Château Filhot Sauternes 2015 - Highly Recommended

The vineyard was awarded the ‘Second Cru Classification’ according to the 1855 official classification suggested to Napoleon III by the Negociants and the Chamber of Commerce of Bordeaux. From then on the wine Chateau FILHOT was universally diffused under the name of Chateau Sauternes until the end of the 19th century.
One of the Countess Durieu de Lacarelle’s daughters married the Count Pierre de Vaucelles, ambassador of France. Since 1974, their eldest son, the Count H. de Vaucelles, has been managing the Chateau FILHOT and is assisted by his son Gabriel since 1996. www.filhot.com

Nose: Fresh, focused, medium intensity, minerality, chamomile, vanilla, ripe white peach, orange blossom. Pretty. Layered aromas.

Palate: Full body, creamy, sweet, focused, rich honey with vanilla, intense over ripe pear and peach, lovely acid tingle down middle of palate, lip smacker, happy tongue, delicious long finish. Yowzer!

Day Two: Unctuous, deliciously deep sweet, apricot preserve dominates, followed by peach reduction, pineapple, edged with light nuttiness and minerality, balanced acidity keeps it all together, dash of cinnamon on the lovely long finish. Big like.

Pairings:

  • Cheese Comte: Yes! Wine is wonderfully intense,focused and a good match with this cheese.
  • Cheese Triple Cream Mushroom: No, cheese lost in the wine.
  • Pork Chop: Oh my yes. Wonderful pairing and contrast of sweet and savory.
  • Shrimp: Yes, especially with bite of heat from pepper flakes.
  • Fresh peach: Yummmmm...not a very ripe peach, bit firm. Like.
  • Peaches and Whip Cream: Dreamy pairing. Cream and peach so good with this wine. Repeat. Pineapple flavor brought out in wine. Happy place. 
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Chateau Filhot Sauternes paired with peaches and cream. Oh my.

Thoughts: This wine delivered tremendous satisfaction. The savory Comte cheese matched this Sauternes beautifully. Funky, cheeses should pair beautifully. Also, think Pâté, goose liver and wild game. And don't be afraid to pair with spicy hot seafood. Naturally, perfect match to salty, savory fried pork chops. If you love bacon, this wine will be your best pairing companion. Dessert? Yes please! Oh my, the fresh peach with heavy cream was decadently, delicious. Put me in my happy place. Oh my. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Any time.
Highly Recommended.

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux, AOC Sauternes
Average age of vines 38 years
Picked between mid-September and late October, by successive selections
Blend: 60% Semillon, 36% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Muscadelle
Aged 22 months, 12 months in oak (1/3 new oak)
ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Sample provided by snooth.com

I've been told that one must not consider drinking a vintage Sauternes until it is at least 10 years old. Case in point, the next wine is a 2006 vintage Sauternes. This wine is different from the previous seven. The color is much darker. The intensity, more so, and the wine has developed some earthy notes. Lovely.

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Deep color of the Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes 2006.

8. Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes 2006 - Highly Recommended

Castelnau de Suduiraut is a fresher style Sauternes with great personality. It is produced from younger vines, but mostly from carefully selected parcels within the vineyard of Suduiraut. www.suduiraut.com

Nose: Intense nose, earthy floral note, honey and leather, dried orange peel, funky quality in background.

Palate: Rich and full bodied, with an unexpected lift mid-palate, mouth filling, peach, ripe sweet peach, vanilla in the background, stimulating acidity, with apricot preserve, honey and smoky toast lingering on the finish. Yum.

Day Two: Honey comb, minerality, sesame seed honey-crisp, apricot preserve with earthy note, chamomile tea, dried orange, integrated sweetness, still plenty of acid to keep it balanced, rich, with a long finish. Very, very good. Wonderful sipper.

Pairings:

  • Cheese Comte: Yes...emphasized pungent quality of the cheese and wine. Kind of funky, but very good.
  • Cheese Triple Cream Mushroom: No. Not complimentary, flavors fought.
  • Pork Chop: No. Wine walked all over the pork chop.
  • Shrimp: Worked okay, I would amp up the chilli pepper flakes for more heat. Wine is big.
  • Sriracha Cashews: Fun companion. Great match of flavors. Yum, sort of a noughat and tootsie roll thing with this pairing. Big like. Rocked!
  • Sweet and Hot Beef Jerky: Amped up the heat. Jerky did not seem so hot, until I drank the wine...flavors not the most compatible for me.
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Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes 2006 - food not required.


Thoughts: Tricky pairing with food. Wine is big, earthy, and complex. But delicious all on its own. For me, this is really a drinking, sipping wine. It was fine with the sriracha cashews, but they were background for munching on. It's all about the lovely, aged Sauternes here friends.
Highly Recommended - food not required. 

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux, AOC Sauternes
Blend: 90% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc
French oak barrels 15 months, 30% at 1 year old barrels and 70% at 2 year old barrels. Racking every 3 months. Slight filtering before bottling.
ABV: 14%
Closure: Natural Cork
Sample provided by snooth.com

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Many thanks to snooth.com and the producers of Sweet Bordeaux. What a treat.

The sweet wines from the Bordeaux region of France certainly delivered tremendous satisfaction for me. And they make wonderful gifts too (hint, hint). I hope you have the pleasure of trying out some of these wine and food pairings at your home.

Cheers!

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