Mon 13 Sep 2010
You may have to get up off your shiftless butt and do a bit of legwork to find this Vin Doux Natural from a small appellation in the South of France, but a little research is good for the soul, and the result will be splendid. I never said that the Wine of the Week would be easy.
The product is Chateau Tour de Farges 2006, Muscat de Lunel. This A.O.C. region lies between Montpellier and Nîmes in the Languedoc; the required grape for Vin Doux Natural here is the evocatively dubbed Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Despite its name, V.D.N is not all that natural; the wine is fortified with grape spirits — to stop fermentation and leave sugar in the wine –to about 15 percent alcohol.
Chateau Tour de Farges has a long and storied history. The property was evidently established in the 16th Century and has been owned since the end of the 18th Century by the Sabatier d’Espeyres family. During the 19th Century, the chateau was presided over by the celebrated Viennese singer Caroline Ungher, whom François Sabatier married in 1840. Intellectual, sentimental, charming and gregarious, she attracted to Tour de Farges such figures as artist Gustave Courbet, who executed an appropriately poetic depiction of the chateau; novelist Alexander Dumas; and the as-yet-unknown political and economic theorist named Karl Marx. I don’t often include the websites of wineries in these posts, but the website of Tour de Farges is so charming and eccentric and filled with anecdote that I will break my injunction for this occasion.
Chateau Tour de Farges 2006 sees no oak; it ages six months in stainless steel tanks and concrete vats. The color is very pale yet glowing straw-gold. The wine manifests every fraction of lightness and elegance yet offers real presence and consequence on the palate. The lithesome bouquet is woven of ripe peach and spiced apricot with hints of apples, apple pie and roasted almonds. The entry is moderately sweet and honeyed, but from midway back the effect is increasingly dry, balanced by pinpoint, almost electrifying acidity. Poised in paradoxical equilibrium between rich and spicy peach, apricot and quince flavors and a texture that’s close to lacy transparency, this wine is a true sweetheart that exhibits its earthy side in a mineral-permeated finish of stones and bones. Luscious and supple but with inner spareness and a sense of discretion. Drink now through 2016 to ’18 (well-stored) with the simplest of desserts, like unadorned fruit tarts or even a shortbread cookie. For a culinary frisson, try with seared foie gras, a classic match. Excellent. About $24.
Imported by Martine’s Wines, Novato, Cal. Tasted at a trade event. The label image says “2005,” but it is the 2006 under review here.