I have spent much of this year thinking and writing about Roussillon, rather than the Languedoc, researching a book on the region that is due to appear in the spring. One of the delights of Roussillon is the vin doux naturel, the delicious fortified wines of Maury, Banyuls and Rivesaltes. And one of the enigmas is: why are these wines not more popular, when they are so delicious? And they are perfect for this time of the year, providing warmth and spice on a grey day. They go with mince pies and Christmas pudding, with Stilton and walnuts, or are perfect for sipping on their own. And they represent extraordinary value. Berry Bros are selling Maury 1928 Solera, produced by the village cooperative of Maury for £19.95 for a 50 cl bottle. The wine comes from a solera that was started in 1928. The grape variety is Grenache Noir, which will have been aged in barrel for over number of years so that the colour evolves and become tuilé or tawny and the wine develops a wonderful dry nutty nose, reminiscent of walnuts, with some rounded rich red fruit, balanced with a firm bite on the finish, and a streak of alcohol.
Vin doux comes in various forms and colours. There are younger fresher wines, Grenat or Rimage, made without any contact with oxygen, which you might equate to a ruby port. And then there are the oxidative wines that spend several, even many years in barrel which are often left outside so that they are exposed to the elements and extremes of temperature, both heat and cold. Alternatively, they might be left in an attic, again subjected to extremes of temperature, so that the flavours concentrate, as the angels take their share, with the gentle evaporation of the wine. If made from white grapes, they will turn ambré or amber with age, and if made from red grapes, they will become tuilé or tawny. So if you are looking for an original Christmas drink, do try a vin doux. You will not be disappointed.
This will be my last post of the year, so may I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Christmas with some good bottles, and followed by a very much better 2021 than 2020.