Here at Farr Vintners we have loved Vin Doux Naturel since we first discovered these unique and amazing sweet wines two decades ago. In that time, we have sold over 70 different vintages! These old, rare and exceptional wines offer superb quality in every vintage, making perfect birthday, anniversary or celebratory gifts. They are also stunning wines in their own right and worthy of any cellar. As Neal Martin puts it "no other category of wine offers such a combination of deliciousness, complexity, history and affordability. Treat yourself...while you still can."
Produced from old vines in the south of France, the varieties are largely a blend typical of Châteaneuf-du-Pape. The fruit is picked at the same ripeness as full bodied reds from the area. Fermentation is arrested through the process of mutage, where highly refined spirit is added to fortify the wine to 16 or 17 degrees alcohol. This kills off the yeast and leaves residual sugar - the root of the wines' sweetness.
Young Vins Doux Naturels are then often placed in glass demi-johns and sit out in the Mediterranean heat and sun for up to two years. This process brings rich and complex caramelised flavours and dried fruit character. Following this, the wines are barrelled down into large foudres for long-term ageing. This process lasts for decades and sometimes over half a century. The wines are only bottled once ready for sale. Over time they take on complexity from the barrel and slow oxygenation, gaining deep, savoury character. They also slowly evaporate, concentrating the flavours. This process makes the wines almost indestructible, meaning you can leave an open bottle upright in the fridge with the cork replaced and enjoy it over several weeks and even months.
The wines make little financial sense to produce. Often wines will be sold several generations later, taking up cellar space all the while. Table wines from the region can be fermented, matured, bottled and sold while the next vintage is still growing on the vine. As a result, this style of wine is dying out. Neal Martin is keen to point this out, saying people will "regret never acting on my advice, because they may no longer exist except for odd appearances at auction." Buy them while you still can.
We always have a vast selection of vintages available. All are of excellent quality and can be bought by the bottle, rather than the case. Noble Rot currently list 40 vintages by the glass at their two London restaurants, so those curious to sample the wines should make a reservation now and look forward to finishing their meal with a birth-year vintage.
We have relaxed our minimum order rules so that customers can try odd bottles of these amazing wines. Most can be bought by the single bottle as long as at least 3 are purchased at any one time.
Today we have 52 different vintages available for sale – probably including your birthyear and those of your family and friends!
For anyone born in 1972, for example, this year is THE BIG FIVE-OH. It was an absolutely lousy vintage in Bordeaux but here is a delicious dessert wine rated 90 points (Vinous) and 17.5 points (JR.com) at just £40 per bottle + taxes.