75cl * 15% ABV * Beaume de Venise (Rhône Valley), France
The wine for Muscat lovers, the beautiful little village of Beaumes de Venise in the south of France produces the world’s lightest and most elegant Muscats and Durban is the flag bearer for the region. So much so that when President Sarkozy was announcing a huge reform of French viticulture in 2011 he chose the steps of Durban’s winery to do it from as the reputation and history of the estate was seen to add credibility to the announcement. With characteristic humour winery owner Henri Leydier described the visit as “An all day long, ballet of gendarmes, men from the President's security service, and the Élysée press service.”
On the nose this wine has aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, ripe pears and apricots. These develop into flavours of peach, stone fruit and gentle hints of sweet marmalade with a lovely finish of juicy oranges and delicate jasmine flowers. This “orangeness” is what is so unique to Durban and is why it stands head and shoulders above other Muscats, which tend to have a simpler “grapier” flavour profile.
Even though this wine is sweet it has a wonderful freshness about it, which makes it remarkably drinkable so can be enjoyed like they do in France as an apéritif. However, it really comes into its own when served with fruit-based puddings such as apple crumble, lemon tart, pavlova, fruit-topped cheesecakes and creamy puds or salted blue cheese. The winery even suggests a cinnamon-laced strudel as a match. Yum.
Serve chilled at 6C - 8C. The vineyard is so keen to point out how well the wine ages - so much so that on all the invoices I receive the wine is listed as “Muscat Beaumes de Venise - ages 20 years”.