Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chateau Bel-Air Sainte Croix du Mont, 1986

Sainte Croix du Mont is a satellite appellation with wines similar to those made in Sauternes and Barsac. Bel-Air is recognized as one of the top two or three wines produced in Sainte Croix du Mont. As Sauternes prices have escalated, these satellite appellations have become recognized as offering good value, but their prices have risen too. More than 20 years ago, I paid $35 for a full case of Bel-Air; today, one bottle of the current vintage would cost $28 to $30. Oh, the joys of having a cellar!

The color is a medium deep gold, and the smells are exactly what you would expect from a good Sauternes: apricots, almonds and honey. Rich on the palate but not sticky sweet. Good fruit acidity; even a little tartness when tasted alongside ice cream and chocolate. This 25-year-0ld Sainte Croix du Mont is not at all old; even on the second and third night, it is fresh and lively. It's showing much, much younger than a 1983 Filhot and a 1983 Guirard I had in September. And I still have most of my $35 case!

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