A delightful alternative to Sauternes

2004 Château Bel-Air, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Bordeaux, France

2004 Chteau Bel-Air, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Bordeaux, France (£11.90 for a bottle, or £6.50 for a half bottle; Haynes, Hanson & Clark of London, 020-7584 7927; and Stow-on-the-Wold, 01451-870808).

It is such a pain trying to find really decent sweet wine for dinner parties these days. Sauternes is frighteningly expensive and NewWorld versions sometimes lack elegance and complexity, so where should one look?

'No further', is the answer, because this delightful Sainte-Croix-du-Mont is exactly what you are searching for. Situated just over the other side of the Garonne River from the cosmic wine region of Sauternes, this quiet little area is busy making some of the best value sweeties on the planet. 2004 Chteau Bel-Air is honeyed, mildly tropical, silky smooth and ever so relaxed.

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Perfect for lighter, fruit-based puddings and superb with pts and terrines, this cracker is sensational value at a pound a glass. The fact that there are halves available, too, means that you should get in quick because they are so dinky and delicious that you might be tempted to grab a handful. I can see it now one each, with a straw for your next serious feast! Please don't tell anyone that I wrote this, because this is clearly a desperately gluttonous thought.

The problem is that I love this wine so much that I don't reckon a half would even touch the sides.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website, www.matthewjukes.com.

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.