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Pacherenc du Vic Bilh AC in Top Ten Sweet wines

Pachernc du Vic Bilh ACJonathan Ray in The Telegraph selects his top 10 sweet wines, which includes the little-known and hard-to-pronounce appellation of Pacherenc du Vic Bilh from South West France. Reserved solely for white wines, it is the white sister to the red Madiran AC, covering virtually the same area in deepest Gascony.
It is most often seen as a late harvest dessert wine, but you can also find dry versions. Permitted grapes include Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Arrufiac and Petit Courbu grapes, similar to nearby Jurancon AC, but tending to have a touch more mineral edge.

2005 Rive Haute Reserve Pacherenc 13.5%vol, France (£8.99 per 50cl; Playford Ros 01845 526777, Coe Vintners 020 8551 4966, Wheeler Cellars 01206 713560).Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl is the white wine AOC from Madiran in south-west France. Made from Gros and Petit Manseng, Petit Courbu and Arrufiac picked between St Martin’s Day (Nov 4) and St Albert’s Day (Nov 15), this has hints of lemon and apricot. Great with fruit tart.

This comes from the Plaimont Co-operative, who also produce another superb Pacherenc – Cuvée St Albert.- for more see www.plaimont.com
Other French wines on the list included a Jurancon from the Southwest, a Barsac from Bordeaux and a demi-sec Champagne from Pol Roger!

Johnathan Ray makes the point that we too often pigeonhole such wines as “dessert” or “pudding” wines, when there are ocassions when they can be a perfect compliment to other foods.

“Pan-fried foie gras, simple pâté de foie or even smoked fish at the start of a meal can work beautifully with a sticky. I once enjoyed a fine German Beerenauslese with a main course of roast wild boar.”

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