Although Champagne seems to be the dominant favourite of celebrations (especially during the holiday season), sweet wines also deserve to be ‘centre stage’ as they manage any feast. In addition, as drinkable as I find Sauternes, France boasts many other stunning wines. Here are some of my favourites:

Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh AOC, Château Bouscassé, Larmes Célestes 2011

Floral, peach-pit nose. Perfectly balanced. High acidity leaves the palate clean as the silky finish melts away. Grape variety: 100 percent Petit Manseng.

Jurançon AOC, Domaine de Souch, Cuvée Marie Kattalin 2010

Dripping in yellow diamonds. An ornate, sophisticated and seductive wine. Beautifully constructed. Grape variety: 100 percent Petit Manseng.

Coteaux du Layon AOC, Domaine des Forges, Quarts de Chaume 2010

A sweet and rich palate is quickly refreshed by a salty sea-breeze retro-olfactive. Grape variety: 100 percent Chenin Blanc.

Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise AOC, Domaine de la Pigeade 2011

A deliciously frivolous, joyous and mask-wearing flirt. Lovely clean finish. Grape variety: 100 percent Muscat.

Maury AOC, Domaine Pouderoux, Grand Réserve NV

Fortified and aged in casks for six years. A concentrated monster of opulent chocolate, dark cherry and plum. Grape variety: 100 percent Grenache Noir.

Madiran AOC, Maydie, Tannat Vintage 2010

Vin doux naturel. The grape variety, Tannat, makes highly tannic reds, here it provides a stunningly perfect balance.


Linda Johnson-Bell is the author of Pairing Wine and Food: A Handbook for All Cuisines. For more information, visit her website:

Originally published in the December 2013-January 2014 issue of France Today

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