Crushed & Cured

Domaine Fontanel, Rivesaltes Ambre, Vin Doux Naturels, 2015


This Vin Doux Naturel (literally naturally sweet wine) is one of the most distinctive and exciting wines in our entire stock. From late-picked, 60 year-old vines of Grenache Blanc and Gris, the Ambré - amber - tone develops after at least five years of mildly oxidative ageing in barrel (and here it’s kept a lot longer before bottling). Pure clear amber hue. This offers intriguing fumes: dried figs and dates with a spirity lift. The sherry-like oxidation is more apparent on the palate - the dried fruit and apricot liqueur notes give way to the nuttiness of an old oloroso. Not over-sweet, but airy and fragrant.

Vins Doux Naturels are made by stopping the fermentation of late picked, very ripe grapes, part way through its course, by the addition of alcohol (a process known as mutage); thereby preventing the yeasts from working, and leaving a fortified wine with plentiful natural, unfermented grape sugar and between 15 and 17 degrees of alcohol. It’s an ancient art which probably came over the Pyrenees from Moorish Spain with the medieval spread of distillation – and examples of VDNs are now found across the south of France, as far as Beaumes de Venise and Rasteau. These are wonderful, distinctive fortified wines - port-like but with lower alcohol levels and without the tannins.

Country: France 

Region: Roussillon

Vintage: 2015

Grape Variety: Grenache Blanc

ABV: 16%

Size: 750ml 

Producer: Domaine Fontanel