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Being interested in broadening my wine horizons, I had become accustomed to dropping in on the local wine shop, and buying wines which I had read about, or heard about, or simply hadn't had before, so I could educate my palate. I wanted to be able to understand what was meant by phrases like, "French white Burgundies tend to be subtle and oaky, but New World Chardonnays are big and reminscent of tropical fruit." On one of these adventures, I noticed they were displaying a bottle of Sauternes, a wine I had always heard praised, but had never tasted. I bought it, drank it with friends, liked it. It reminded me of honey or baklava.

Anyway, when I went back, I asked the owner of the shop if he was expected any more Sauternes. He said, no, but if I like Sauternes, perhaps I'd like to try this special Vouvray moelleux 1990, which he just happened to have.

Now, Vouvray is a wine appelation in France which produces mostly subtle whites from the chenin blanc grape. Occasionally, however, noble rot attacks some of the grapes, and they make a dessert wine. Most years noble rot is absent, and normal Vouvray is made. This is unlike the other great dessert wines, in that it's only produced sporadically.

Anyway, I bought the bottle and drank it on New Year's Eve. I was unprepared for the experience. I'd had aged wines before, and they were good, but this was a revelation. Because of the high sugar content of dessert wines, their aging potential is unmatched, and this 13-year-old Vouvray was astonishing. The flavors swirled in the mouth and really only came to life after swallowing. Every glassful, every mouthful, was different. First it was almonds or marzipan. Then a subtle creamy lemon flavor. The most amazing stroke of all was the crème brûlée finish. How can something made from grapes taste like cream and caramelized sugar?

It was like something out of the Chronicles of Narnia. Can I have more turkish delight?

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