When it comes to dessert wines, most drinkers don't get past Sauternes.
But those in the know can now commit a new vocabulary phrase to heart: Quarts de Chaume.
This region in France's Loire Valley has been turning out extraordinary, age-worthy sweet wines for decades, but only recently was it bestowed Grand Cru classification.
Made entirely from late-harvest Chenin Blanc, the wine relies on the development of botrytis--that miraculous bacteria known as "noble rot," which dries grapes to a sugary sweetness. The result is one of the most irresistible and dazzlingly honeyed wines imaginable.
Although only a handful of winemakers operate within this tiny region, our favorite bottling by far is the 2008 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume ($60 for 750ml), which is produced by one of the appellation's most iconic flagship estates. On first sip, it offers immense purity of flavor, rippling with quince, candied apple and a lively jolt of fresh citrus.
A bit of this magical liquid goes a long way, so unless you're entertaining a large group, we recommend appreciating it in the 375 ml half-bottle. It's the perfect amount to share after dinner with someone you find as sweet as the wine itself.