Last week I got a call from my doctor with the results of a blood test. She told me I had diabetes and so needed to come in and discuss it. I was more than a little perturbed by this; as an ex-epidemiologist I am well aware how serious diabetes can be. Indeed, even today having it reduces one’s lifespan by 30-50% from the age of diagnosis. So you can imagine my relief, and extreme annoyance with the doctor, when I saw her earlier and she said, “Oh yes, I was meaning to give you a call as I gave you the wrong results for the blood test. You don’t have diabetes and everything is fine.” So as it appears my body has no problems dealing with sugar I am going to drink a lot of it.
Some people have a blind spot when it comes to judging the quality of sweet wine: they seem to think that just because something is really sweet it must be a great wine. This, of course, is manifest bollocks. Sweet wines need complexity and style as well as mere sweetness in order to merit praise – characters a lot of excessively sweet wines lack. This is why I hate and despise the wines, to pick an example from the top of my head, of Alois ‘Smug’ Kracher: they are simply bottles of dissolved sugar with no character beyond that. These two, on the other had, are sweeties with manifest style and I am having a great time drinking them.
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Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives Grand Cru Sommerberg 2006, Domaine Albert Boxler
I really like the peachy fruit on this nose, there is a hint of late-harvest candied character to it but for a late-harvest offering it is impressively fresh. I love its minerality too, clearly not short on sophistication. There is a hint of tiredness, alas. I am firmly of the opinion that Pinot Gris is not a wine for ageing and this was in better condition a few years ago. Still, it is not too far gone and there is pleasure to be had. Lawks, it does taste quite sweet and bursting with extremely ripe fruit. Damned good acidity and it has a rich, creamy minerality to engage the interest of the more demanding consumer. Good persistence of flavour and, despite the slightly dirty hint on the finish derived from being a tad too old, this is a distinctly enjoyable wine. I’m rather taken with it.
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Château Coutet 2005
Hell’s bells, this is an alcohol beast on the nose and its botrytic peaches and cream character is incredibly overt. It also has clearly had a very expensive oak treatment, which seems quite prominent on the nose at this stage of its evolution. I don’t normally drink Sauternes when they are this young and as such the incredible intensity of it leaves me rather stunned. I like the nose, but it is a burning fireball of explosive power. It is very sweet, with impressive acidity and rich fruitiness. A biggie, that is for sure. Clearly has what it needs where it needs it in order to age for a serious amount of time. Only pop yours now if you want to be dumbstruck by, its manifest complexity aside, a wine of distinct heroism.