A treasure, another delicious Vin Doux Naturel, came by way last week, with thanks to Stewart Travers of Cambridge Wine Merchants, who are one of the best south of France specialists in the country. I leapt at his offer to try his current favourite VDN, from Domaine Comelade in the village of Estagel in the Agly Valley. Stewart is selling their 1988 Rivesaltes Ambré le Barral for the ridiculously cheap price of £21.99 for a 50cl. bottle. Where else would you find a wine over 30 years old for that price?
I have to admit that I had never heard of Domaine Comelade, so they will not be in my forthcoming book, but I do hope that I might go and visit them when we are finally allowed to travel again. Meanwhile I savoured the wine. It is amber brown in colour, with a firm dry nutty nose. On the palate, there are delicious notes of walnuts, with a firm bite of acidity, that makes for a refreshing finish. Tried again a couple of days later, after sitting in a stoppered decanter, it seems more rounded with some lightly honeyed notes. Wines like this have nothing to fear from oxygen.
And it is very definitely what is so eloquently called un vin de meditation, a wine to sip and savour at the end of a meal on a winter’s evening. It goes a treat with a few walnuts. The grape varieties are a blend of Macabeo and Grenache Gris, and the wine was transferred into old wooden barrels after mutage, and had spent 32 years in wood, until it was bottled, specifically to fulfil the order from Cambridge Wine Merchants.