Catch-up with some European sweet wines

2007 willi, grun

2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett AP#9 8%
One of my favourite Mosel producers. 57g/l residual sugar. A bright pale gold, red apple, touch of barely ripe pineapple. Crunchy, fresh, melons and lime, with a rich fresh mouthfeel, Comforting, comfortable, refreshing.

To 2030, 91 points.

2007 Maximin Grunhaus herrenberg Riesling spatlese 8%
Mosel. Deeper gold, Aromatically less pure than the previous wine; candle-wax, red grapefruit, spiced pears. The palate displays more dried and glace fruits; acidity does not seem as vibrant and a bit of hardness is evident. No trouble drinking this wine over several days, but early consumption is suggested.

The label is “old-school”.

To 2025 and 89 points

2006 Ch Coutet 14%
Barsac, 75% Semillon, 23% sav blanc 2% muscadelle; 149 g/l rs. A good but not brilliant vintage for Sauternes, but the wine (half bottle) has held well. There is abundant information on their website.

Light toffee colour, showing pristine vanilla, icing sugar, stewed apricot, and orange peel. The palate is very ripe and sweet, with some marmalade characters and almond (oak). Racy acid makes helps; there is tension between the exotic fruit sweetness, acidity and mouthfilling texture.

From a half-bottle, this wine was a wonderful result for the vintage and seems on a long plateau. Drink to 2025 (conservative, but the wine presents so well now), and 93 points

2010 Mader Pinot Gris Schlossberg Grand cru (sweet)
Hunawihr,  Alsace. Light gold colour, Sultana, pears, dried apple, dried apricot. The grapey palate retains just enough acidity to keep interest.

Drying out, with possibly some oxidation. There is still drinking enjoyment, but it’s on the decline

Drink now, and 87 points

Two from Barsac, two from Sauternes

It’s a source of wonder that one area can produce a great dry wine styles of the world (red Bordeaux, with Cabernet Sauvignon allied with Merlot and other red varieties), and also one great sweet white wine style (Barsac and Sauternes, made generally from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc). The dry whites can be tantalisingly complex too.

The Sauternes area is usually blessed by fogs, and botrytis can perform its magic. Low yields and the concentration delivered by botrytis mean the wines can absorb an extensive amount of oak, adding even more complexity, and while attractive as young wines, have the potency to last for decades.

Two wines were served masked; they turned out to be from the same producer with just one years difference in the vintage. While I successfully initially estimated the wines as around 20 years old, the more advanced nature of the second (and actually younger) wine made me guess a little older. The wines were from Chateau Coutet.

1996 Ch Coutet (barsac) 14%
75% Semillon, 20% sauvignon blanc, 10% muscadelle

The wine was a bright light copper orange liqueur colour, displaying some vanilla, dark honey, fresh and dried apricot plus crème brulee; the palate lush, with attractive slightly bitter orange marmalade, sweet spices and texture. Full-bodied with grace and balance. Harmonious with drive and length. At its peak.

Drink to 2026, and 93 points

1997 Ch Coutet (barsac) 13.5%
80% Semillon, 10% sauvignon blanc, 10% muscadelle)

Three bottles were opened, the bottle I was served from was most successful; another bottle was nearly as excellent; the third bottle however was plain and comparatively dull.

The wine had a similar bright dark gold colour, and showed darker, riper fruit flavours – stewed fruits with some ripe tropical notes. Overall, while seemingly a little sweeter, and with a silky palate, it was simpler in its characters, and seems a drink-soon proposition.

Drink to 2023, 90 points.

The next two wines were half-bottles from terrific QPR producers from the outstanding 2009 vintage. Dim restaurant lighting thwarted proper assessment of colour, and the bottles quickly emptied, preventing more leisurely appraisal at home.

2009 Ch la tour blanche (sauternes- Bommes) 13.8%
Semillon, sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle) 150 g/l rs

Bright and clear gold colour, this wine was packed with floral tropical fruit notes, of mango, orange peel, green pineapple backed up with green nettle and barley sugar; altogether complex and delicious. It was rich and complete on the palate, with racy acidity cutting through its lushness. I’m a happy purchaser, with a few more bottles for the future

Drink to 2030 and 92 points

2009 Ch Raymond Lafon  (sauternes) 13.5%
80% semillon, 20% sauvignon blanc, 138 g/l rs

The colour was clear, albeit slightly darker than the wine above. It seemed to show brighter perfumed fruits, greater honeyed richness and a grippier palate, but not quite the intrigue of the first wine, and seemed readier,

Drink to 2026 and 91 points

1988 Chateau Coutet 14%

The picture shows the cork inside the bottle – my technique with the ah-so failed.

IMAG0726

Bright medium gold colour (excellent for age); this is not the richest Barsac you will encounter, but it provides plenty of drinking pleasure. It’s still showing freshness after nearly 30 years, and while beginning to dry up, its full of interest thanks to its lovely balance. Botrytised fruit, oak and bottle age are in harmony.

This wine is a blend of 75% semillon, 23% Sauvignon blanc and 2% muscadelle, 100% barrel-fermented in new French oak – detailed in the informative Chateau Coutet website. 1988 was an excellent year in Sauternes and Barsac with widespread botrytis.

Medium bodied, and not as sweet as its modern counterparts, it’s clean and shows tropical notes (mainly pineapple) and orange rind. The palate is more oriented to barley sugar and quince paste, with some raisined, and glace fruits; plus a bit of marmalade and syrup fills the picture. A light touch of oak is present to contribute further mouthfeel and aid its complexity. Lively acidity really proves its class.

My only bottle, a speculative auction purchase – drink to 2020, although some bottles will live much, much longer and 92 points

Two from Barsac (14%) and a fortified

The two sweet white wines were served masked,  both from 2005, and were Chateau Filhot, and Chateau Coutet. Both are Semillon dominant (Filhot 60%, Coutet 75%, each with a smidgeon of Muscadelle, and the rest Sauvignon Blanc.  The Filhot was authentic to style, with barley-sugar, lime-juice, some candle-wax, and light phenolic characters. The Coutet was darker in colour, but brighter.  Orange-blossom was its main character with some supporting pineapple. The Coutet was certainly more powerful, richer and sweeter. Its texture was a delight – supple and mouthfilling. Its weakness was that there was some bitterness, and some coarseness. My impression was there was some errant rot as well as botrytis.

2 2005 sauternes

The Filhot was more straightforward, but highly enjoyable, and it represents fantastic value. I have previously pleasantly surprised by the 2001 Ch Filhot, and the common factor is that these were both excellent years for sweet wines from Bordeaux. I will watch for 2009 and 2010.

2005 Ch Filhot – drink now-2025, score 92

2005 Ch Coutet- drink now-2025, score 87

1993 Stanton and Killeen Jack’s block Vintage fortified 18.6%

Dark ruby colour, my key observation of the wine was its slinky, and gentle. It’s a drier style but clearly Australian. Its packed with fine chalky tannins and flavours running from cocoa, fruitcake and dried fruits, dark berries and light mocha flavours. The spirit is appropriate and balanced. This wine is an outstanding example of an aged vintage fortified, with plenty in reserve for the future.

Its from Rutherglen, 90% Shiraz with some minor contributions from Durif and Touriga, a terrific wine made by the late Chris Killeen.

Drink to 2025, score 95 points.