Rivesaltes Ambre, Domaine Fontanel, Roussillon, France


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Roving Sommelier is passionate about dessert wines, especially the prestigious Vin Doux Naturel wines of Roussillon in South-west France. Domaine Fontanel is a small, family-owned vineyard located in Tautavel on black schist soils in Rivesaltes AOC, near to Perpignan in Roussillon. The wine is made up of very old vine Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris. All the grapes have been hand-harvested and cool fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve and enhance the wine’s primary fruit flavours. In addition, the wine has been aged in small old oak barrels for 7 years to develop texture and complexity and a richer flavour and amber colour. This Vin Doux Naturel has been lightly fortified to 16% abv and reveals exquisite fruit flavours of citrus peel, candied orange and honey and beeswax aromas. After the time spent ageing in oak barrels, the wine is then decanted into glass demi-johns and then into bottle for further ageing before release. Perfect with fruit flavoured desserts, especially those with apricots, peaches and nectarines or crème brulee and chocolate. What’s more, not only did I visit the vineyard and meet the family, but also I served the 1999 vintage Rivesaltes Ambre Vin Doux Naturel wine made by Domaine Fontanel when I won the European Final of the Roussillon Dessert Trophy held in Perpignan in April 2013. Paired with Sarah Frankland’s exquisite dessert, it was a winning combination! Serve lightly-chilled in a convivial atmosphere.

Alcohol: 16% abv (75cl)

Closure: Cork

Grape varieties: Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris

Flavour Profiles: Sweet, Fresh, Aromatic, Citrus, Floral, Stone Fruits, Apricot, Peach, Nectarine, Beeswax, Honey, Spice.