Wine: Life is sweet

Famously among my friends, I am not very interested in drinking stickily sweet wines. Tasting them is fine, but wade through a gloopy glassful? I would rather have another glass of red, please. Or a knickerbocker glory, if only for the joy of asking for it. But every so often, along comes one for which I will make an exception. Domaine Gardrat Pineau des Charentes Reserve (£18.50 for 75cl,; 17% abv) was hand-delivered to my flat by Tom of Yapp Brothers because he lives in the next street. I was encouraged to see that Tom had taken the precaution of drinking half the bottle before bringing it round. (Tellingly, if I'm honest, very fractionally more than half the bottle, showing the point at which he'd felt he had to exercise restraint.)

"Yes," he sighed, fondling it with a melancholy air as he removed it from his record bag. "I took it out for dinner and we kept having just one more small glass."

This wine is like that. Pineau des Charentes is made in the departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime (hence the name) by blending ugni blanc and colombard, then adding cognac to the must before it ferments, so it has the sweetness of raw grape juice and the patrician bite of brandy. This one is stunning. It feels like a caress and when you take a sip is so good that you stop talking. It tastes gloriously mellow, of plump, alcohol-soaked raisins, of prunes, walnuts and the smell of freshly ground coffee, of preparing for Christmas but also of late summer sun.

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