Pete Ste­wart chooses the drinks to ac­com­pany Shirley’s recipes:

Sunday Herald Life - - FOOD & DRINK -

WITH Shirley’s de­li­cious ap­ple cake on the menu, I thought we should treat our­selves this week. Ap­ple-based desserts suit a clas­sic sweet wine with good acid­ity, and there are few as clas­sic as Sauternes.

Sauternes sits within the Graves sub-re­gion of Bordeaux, and is ar­guably re­spon­si­ble for the best sweet wines in the world. The Semil­lon and Sauvi­gnon Blanc grapes are af­fected by botry­tis cin­era (or no­ble rot), a mould that at­tacks the grapes and de­vours the wa­ter in­side them, thereby con­cen­trat­ing the sug­ars and re­sult­ing in less, but sweeter juice.

Hot­ter vin­tages tend to cre­ate bet­ter Sauternes, and 2003 was a par­tic­u­larly good year for the re­gion de­spite be­ing ter­ri­ble al­most ev­ery­where else in Europe. The higher tem­per­a­tures caused the grapes else­where to ripen too quickly re­sult­ing in wines that were un­likely to stand the test of time. How­ever, in Sauternes, the wines ben­e­fited mas­sively from the ex­tra sun and hu­mid­ity in the morn­ings. The pro­duc­ers in Sauternes can only ex­pect three or four vin­tages in a decade with con­di­tions to suit their par­tic­u­lar style of wine­mak­ing.

The draw­back to a good Sauternes is some­thing that you will feel most acutely in your wal­let. Be­cause of the no­ble rot, the yields are tiny, with wine­mak­ers pro­duc­ing about a quar­ter or even less of the out­put of their nearby neigh­bours who make tra­di­tional claret. In money terms, a case of 12 half­bot­tles of the most fa­mous wine in the re­gion, Chateau d’Yquem, would nor­mally set you back about £1,800 (un­der bond). And that’s just the half-bot­tles. So, these wines are not cheap, but they are ab­so­lutely de­li­cious.

Chateau Rieussec Sauternes 2009 (In­ver­ar­ity One to One, £35.99 half­bot­tle). The Rieussec is lush and fresh in equal mea­sure and is the per­fect part­ner to Shirley’s ap­ple cake. It’s also ideal with blue cheese or foie gras. With the cheese board, a half bot­tle should be enough for four guests (un­less one of them is me). Ar­guably a wee glass on its own also makes for a per­fect dessert at the end of the night.

If you feel your cof­fee morn­ing will be com­pro­mised by the ad­di­tion of such a wee and ex­pen­sive bot­tle, Peller Es­tates Ice Cu­vée Clas­sic Sparkling Wine NV (In­ver­ar­ity One to One, £24.99) is a lovely bub­bly has been “en­hanced with a dosage of Canadian icewine” mak­ing a lusher fizz in your glass. It’s not sweet, more off-dry in style and it’s per­fectly ac­cept­able for quaffing with cake at a cof­fee morn­ing … just make sure you leave the car at home. Pete Ste­wart is Glas­gow di­rec­tor of In­ver­ar­ity One to One, 185a Bath Street, Glas­gow (0141 221 5121) www.in­ver­ar­ity121.com

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