Wine: G. Chevalier Sauternes
Retailer: Trader Joe’s
I’ll never forget the look in his eyes as our friend recounted the first time he drank a Sauternes. It was a lazy afternoon in France and the local winemaker had poured some of the sweet liquid into a halved, fragrant melon. He almost shed a tear as he explained the perfect pairing and how delicious it tasted.
My first experience with a Sauternes was quite different. First, it was the middle of winter. Second, we were in good ole Southern California. Third, this affordable Sauternes from Trader Joe’s was served at the beginning of the meal along with foie gras and toast points. The only similarity in our stories was the sweet, delicious taste of the wine.
The nose of the G. Chevalier Sauternes starts off with a sweetness of honey dew melon and, well, honey. There is also a light citrus note at the end of the inhale that is more orange-like than lemony.
When drinking, it’s very caramel-forward with notes of melon, apricot, and pineapple. Though sweet, it’s not cloy and the syrup-like flavor adds to it’s smooth qualities. You may even notice a bit of funk on the backend, which is likely from the famous botrytis of 2011 when this wine was made. Google “noble rot” and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
In regards to food pairing, a Sauternes is surprisingly versatile. It can go the sweet route with desserts like a creamy custard or carmelized stone fruits over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Heck, you can even drink it as the dessert itself.
Savory-wise, foie gras is a classic pairing and oh-so-française. Otherwise, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Choose a creamy pasta, strong cheeses (i.e. Roquefort or blue cheese), cured meats and ham, or any creature of the sea from oysters to crab, shrimp, and lobster. Fried foods like fried chicken and panko-crusted porks chops also pair well.