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How I accidently sunk the Moelleux

We’re very pleased to welcome Cork restaurant and food blogger Billy Lyons to the Curious Wines blog. Billy tells us how he discovered his own sweet tooth for wine.

Funny how things happen.

This year, while on hols in the Dordogne, I won a prize for being a diligent tourist. Had I been really wide awake and diligent I would have won two of them but didn’t catch on to the scheme until my holiday was half over.

The prize was a bottle of the local Bergerac white and was presented to me by a pleasant young lady while I was doing a tour of Cadouin Abbey. Co-incidentally, the lady had spent three months learning English in UCC. So that wasn’t wasted. The specially packaged bottle was a Moelleux, the semi-sweet wine of the area. A few weeks earlier, I might have turned up my nose at it. But not in Cadouin and not anymore.

On arrival in Sarlat on our first night in the Dordogne, we called to the local Lidl (the only shop open) to stock up. I took charge of the wines and spotted a carton full of Jurancon. From an earlier holiday in the Pays Basque, I knew this to be a lovely dry white so I grabbed one and lobbed it in the trolley.

But we needn’t have rushed to Lidl as our host plied us with red wine, beginning with the excellent local vin de pays (Domme) and progressing to Cahor. The Jurancon was left in the bag. Pulled it out the following day and looked at it. Saw that it was a yellow colour. Checked the back and saw the Moelleux word.

Not too impressed. I didn’t like sweet wines, only dry. Still, by this stage, we had plenty in the gîte and said we’d try it as an aperitif, as suggested on the bottle. Love at first taste. Aperitif and also dessert. Can’t remember what we had in between.

That meant Moelleux was on the buying list after that and some even survived to home with us, including the prize that we opened and enjoyed the other day. There are a few more to come, all from Bergerac, except for one Gaillac.

But if you crave a Moelleux fix, there is an international line-up from which you may pick: Lambrusco (Italy), Riesling Kabinett and Riesling Spätlese (Germany, Austria), Jurancon and Vouvray (France) and late harvest Riesling (USA and Australia) to mention a few. They won’t all be stamped as Moelleux, just watch out for medium sweet.

But do watch out for them. No zeal like that of a convert!

Some technical stuff follows, might be helpful:

A – Moelleux: A French term used to describe white wines that have at least some residual sugar. A single-word translation is difficult because the meaning for Moelleux is a complex compound meaning “soft-smooth-mellow-velvety-lush.”

B – Vins Moelleux: The term “vin blanc Moelleux” is used to describe a sweeter white wine that is made from grapes harvested later than usual, but not so late as to be subject to the “noble rot” applicable to the true dessert wines – known as “vins liquoreux”.

Thanks to Billy for his contribution. You can see Billy’s restaurant and food reviews at

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