DiscoverVin was happy to read the review for 2009 Saint-Albert Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh in the Best Buys over $25 category in the April/May edition of Gourmet Traveller Wine
This delicious sweet wine, made from local varieties petit manseng, gros manseng, courbu and arrufiac in the Madiran region of southern France, tastes a bit like a Jurançon and is similarly produced from naturally dried rather than botrytis-affected fruit. It has an exuberant peachy aroma, not as complex as a botrytis wine perhaps but with a controlled sugar-level and lip-smacking, more-ish, bitter citrus-peel flavour. It’s not ‘sticky’, hence you can drink more of it without feeling over-loaded. HH
It is a pleasure to bring this wine to Australia. We first tasted it in Paris when we were living in Bordeaux. We ducked into a wine shop to buy something to go with a raspberry and cream birthday cake. The owner suggested this wine, over and above more expensive sauternes and champagne. We were so impressed with the wine and the match that we sought it out while living in France. Each time we loved it especially with cakes! The name is a mouthful and so is the flavour of the wine! Delicious!
In fact this is not the first review that it has received in the Australian media...
Winewriter Winsor Dobbin made this his Wine of the Week 10 September 2011 "Another terrific late-picked wine from Producteurs Plaimont, one of the most consistent co-operatives in the south-west of France. An affordable alternative to the dessert wines of Sauterne, this is a blend of four south-western grapes; petit manseng, gros manseng, petit corbu and arrufiac from the Madiran region. You’ll find ripe citrus and tropical fruit salad notes on the nose, leading in to more ultra-ripe fruit on the palate, balanced by some delightfully fresh acidity. Complexity has been added by oak maturation and while this would be great with puddings, it would also work with pates and blue cheeses."
Here are some more details on this lovely dessert wine:
Terroir: The Pacherenc vinyards are in the same geographical area as Madiran (reds are called Madiran and whites Pacherenc). This wine is from vineyards of 115 hectares where the ancient tradition of late harvest wines were revived by the Producteurs Plaimont. In the 17th century, growers realised the magnificent potential of the local grapes to benefit from the climatic conditions- sunny autumn days enabling ripeness and high sugar levels and the cool nights, preserving high acid levels and intense aromas.
Grape varieties: Petit Manseng 50%, Gros Manseng 30%, Petit Courbu 10%, Arrufiac 10%
Winemaking: Harvest takes place around the 15th of November (Saint-Albert's Day). Pacherenc de la Saint Albert comes from grapes left on the vine until the third or forth pass through the vineyard, ensuring very ripe grapes with concentrated flavours. As per tradition, the grapes are placed in small wooden cases for transport in order to preserve the quality of the grapes. Once vinified the wine is aged in oak barrels.
Tasting Notes: Bright straw colour. The nose has ripe fruit characteristics of citrus and quince with favours of vanilla and cocoa. The wine has great balance, freshness and acidity so that it is not cloying at all. The complex ripe fruit characters are then taken over by the fresh acidity which cleans up the palette (and makes you wish for some more!)
Although in Australia we would label this as a dessert wine, it is really quite versatile. The French would serve it as an apertif. Traditionally it would also be served with foie gras or a sheep milks cheese (perhaps from the Pyrenees!). The producer says "wonderful with desert based on cream and fruit". Yes Birthday Cake!