Many people associate fortified wines (port, sherry, etc.) with the holiday table. Statistics show that most port, for example, is sold during the last two months of the year. If you are a port aficionado, there is another wine in the same style to be discovered: Maury!
Maury is a Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) from Southwestern France. The appellation was created in 1936, but this style of wine has been made in the area since Medieval times.
Maury is made from Grenache Noir (at least 75%), planted on low-altitude, south-facing, steep schist slopes, many times overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Very old vines, and even centennial vines, are common in Maury. It is created by adding brandy to the wine in mid-fermentation, thus halting the fermentation and leaving the wine with natural residual sugar. The initial aging could be done in oak barrels but very often is instead conducted in large 25-liter glass jugs known as bonbonnes or dames-jeannes. Maury has great aging potential.
Maury is usually at 16% alcohol, with similar-to-port sweetness, but without the harsh tannins and the heat from the alcohol. Maury is silky-textured, smooth and multi-layered, with aromas and flavors of red fruit and black cherry, cocoa, spices, hazelnut, dried berries and figs. It is usually served as aperitif or as accompaniment to foie gras and strong blue cheeses. For dessert Maury, much like Banyuls, is recognized as the best pairing for chocolate.
Currently available at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits is the Maury from Thunevin-Calvet, priced at only $42.99 for the 750mL bottle.
Atanas Nechkov, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineatanas