By Kat Hounsell
The January detox may well have begun, however we can still indulge in memories of what the Christmas cellar had to offer. My last recollection of the New Year period was savouring a fine-looking and sophisticated dessert wine that can only be described as Panettone in a glass. Rivesaltes Ambre Els Pyreneus NV is rich in colour and the nose nutty with hints of honey soaked apricots and rich roast coffee, the palate is beautifully balanced and chock-full of glacé fruits and brioche.
Bibendum teamed up with Jean Marc Lafage in 2008 to produce elegant wines such as this from the quality vines found either side of the Pyrenees. Jean Marc is definite in maintaining the divide between France and Spain as a political one as he believes “For a wine maker there are no borders.” He continually seeks to make captivating wines from old vines in the terroirs of Emporda, Calatayud, and the home of Vin Doux Naturel wines, Roussillon.
To produce the Rivesaltes Ambre, Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris grapes are hand harvested and vinified with their skins. The wine is then aged in three parts starting with 60% of the juice being pressed and aged under the Solera system. This is where fractional blending, within a set of barrels, brings about a creation that is a mixture of vintages with the average age increasing gradually as the process continues over many years. Another 35% of the juice is kept well away from fresh air in concrete tanks to add intensity to the plummy character of the wine. Finally the remaining 5% is aged outside, in demi-john glass bottles, bringing a little bitterness to the wine and developing the caramel colour.
We all need a little lift in the often gloomy UK January, so I suggest taking time to reminisce the joy of the holidays just gone. Kick back by the fire, craft yourself a little Stilton cheese board and enjoy with a glass of this classy sweet wine, with just enough punch to cope with the strong flavours of the New Year leftovers. Sipping a glass of Rivesaltes Ambre Els Pyrenees NV is the perfect way to start 2012.
Check out the links below to read a few recent wine of the week posts here on B Times –