France’s Retort to Port: 2009 La Tour Vieille Banyuls Rimage
2009 La Tour Vieille Banyuls Rimage
Available at Suburban Wines and Spirits
Retail price: approximately $25 (500 ml)
The holidays are here, and with them come all sorts of festive combinations of delicacies and special French wines to enhance the spirit of the season. In the mood for merry? I’d recommend a glass of wintertime decadence in the form of Banyuls, which is very similar to the well-known and adored port wine but produced à la française. Banyuls comes from Roussillon, which is close to the Spanish border, in an area sometimes referred to as French Catalonia.
Banyuls has port’s deep ruby color but is slightly lower in alcohol and infinitely lower in price. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif as well as a dessert wine. Although it will not age in the bottle for as long as the better ports, it will last well once opened, so that whatever is left from Friday night will be equally delightful on Saturday or Sunday. It is made by adding brandy to the fermenting grape juice of grenache and Carignane, which immediately stops the fermenting process and locks in all the natural sugars. This is what gives Banyuls its confectionary character and concentrated fruit quality.
La Tour Vieille Banyuls shows off a bright black cherry compote and raisin quality on the nose with an overlay of cinnamon stick and caramel. On the palate it is as vibrant and silky smooth as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” It is a delicious French classic and will most likely make you want to sing along with, or at least drink along with, just about any Christmas carol.
This year, instead of milk and cookies, try leaving Père Noël a glass of Banyuls and macarons—he might even be there when you wake up!
Also enjoy it with Mont d’Or chaud, Roquefort, chocolate ganache cake, tarte aux framboises, bûche de Noël and all varieties of macarons.
Editor’s note: Food and wine lovers heading to Paris might want to try one of the Girls’ Guide’s favorite cooking classes in Paris.