Lillet Reserve in the glass, Lillet Rose in the background.
Lillet has just launched their limited edition Reserve Jean de Lillet 2009. At the Lamb's Club last night they offered a tasting paired with a menu created by chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Eric Haugen.
I love Lillet as an aperitif with ice and a slice. It's one of those drinks that instantly transports you to a sunny spot overlooking the ocean. The Reserve seems to transport you to a more contemplative place -- it's a more serious drink than the regular blanc, rose (launched last year) and rouge.
The Reserve bottling is made from single vintage Sauternes (Lillet is from Bordeaux) which means Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes. The Sauternes is blended with orange liqueur, a secret blend of fruit liqueurs and Peruvian quinine.
The Reserve is very concentrated, refined and elegant. Its character shines through and you really get a sense of the Sauternes and orange liqueur components. I'd drink this as an aperitif (chilled, not loaded with ice) or even on its own at the end of a meal in place of dessert - rather than pairing it with dessert.
Look out for it in limited quantities in NYC and as you'd expect, it's pricier than the other bottlings - $44 rather than under $20.