Vin Doux Naturels, or VDNs, are fortified wines that are made in the south of France. Though it originates here there are many sweet, fortified wines made in this style around the world.
They are fortified wines that derive all of their flavour from highly aromatic grapes – and not from the ageing process like all other fortified wines do. The wines, like Port and Madeira, are fortified part way through the fermentation process to both stop fermentation and retain high levels of sugar. The wines are fortified to between 15-20% alcohol content and will have high levels of sugar.
The standout VDNs are made from the Muscat grape making fortified wines that are intensely perfumed with floral, candied citrus, and tropical fruit flavours at the helm. These wins are made in the appellations of Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise, Muscat-de-Saint-Jean-de-Minervois and Muscat-de-Rivesaltes.
Grenache is also used for VDN production, though to a lesser degree than Muscat. The regions that specialise in Grenache VDNs are Rasteau, Banyuls, Maury and Rivesaltes. These wines will be aged outside in large old oak barrels to be oxidatively aged and pick up flavours akin to a Tawny Port. Others will be aged in stainless steel tanks for a short period of time before bottling, these will retain primary red and black fruit flavours and be more akin to a Ruby Port.