Those with only the faintest knowledge of wines will likely know of Sauternes, the area of Bordeaux producing among the finest sweet wines in the world made with Nobly Rotten grapes. But there is another area of France that also has a claim to such plaudits, though it is far less well known: Coteaux du Layon.
This appellation is found in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley, where a combination of warm valleys and humidity from tributary rivers create the ideal conditions for botrytis.
The wines are made with the local grape Chenin Blanc, and can exhibit a wonderful richness of fruit, alongside the typical honey/marmalade/waxy notes associated with botrytis. These rich flavours are balanced by crisp acidity naturally found in Chenin and imparted by the cool climate.
What makes Coteaux du Layon wines so attractive, aside their obvious deliciousness, is the price; you can find excellent examples for a fraction of the price of a Sauternes or a Tokaji (in the UK, look to spend around £15).
Today’s Wine Pairing: Coteaux du Layon x Pear Tart
And these are wines that are just perfect with fruit tarts. They have enough sweetness to stand up to the sugar, and all those rich, candied fruit flavours in the wines complement the fruits in the tart. Moreover, that signature sharpness in the tart is matched by the searing acidity of the Chenin Blanc.