In a nutshell: A half bottle of a wonderfully honeyed and sweet Vin Doux Naturel from the Rhône Valley
The lowdown: Vins Doux Naturel are sweet wines where fermentation has been stopped by the addition of neutral spirit and results in a wine with a high level residual sugar and ABV of around 15-18%. Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is the only example that comes from the Rhône Valley and is a bit of a niche product these days. Philippe & Henri Leydier make theirs using a high proportion of Muscat de Frontignan à petit grains blanc which gives a more delicately coloured wine than many other local growers. On the nose it's got honeysuckle and ripe pear aromas while on the palate there are layers of ripe peachiness, sweet marmalade and a hint of jasmine. Unctuously sweet, it's balanced with an excellent freshness which makes it wonderfully easy drinking.
When to drink: An indulgent wine that's quite delicious alongside all manner of creamy, fruit based desserts
Situated to the east of the village of Beaumes-de-Venise Domaine de Durban is run by brothers Henri and Philippe Leydier. This is the only area of the Rhône Valley where the Muscat grape is grown and it is from Muscat that the famous 'Vin doux naturel' of Beaumes-de-Venise is made. Muscat grapes are cultivated and vinified using the same techniques for table wine before pure alcohol is added to the wine bringing the strength to over 15 degrees. This is the outstanding estate in a village otherwise dominated by a powerful co-operative and several large négociants.