It’s funny how polar the answers to this question can be. Despite the huge range of sweet wines available, people usually have quite strong opinions on the subject. We have come a long way from the those grotty sweet wines of the 70’s, considered the height of sophistication and class.
I’ve been fortunate enough to try some amazing wines from Sauternes, Barsac and Monbazillac in France, Ice Wine from Austria, Tokaji from Hungary, Sweet Riesling from Alsace, Beerenauslese from Germany and some excellent blends and Noble Rot based wines from the USA, Australia and New Zealand. On the fringes you might even consider Pedro Ximenex Sherry from Spain, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from the Rhone Valley or dare I even say it, sweet red wine….
The beauty of these wines are that they can be drunk chilled on their own or they make an excellent accompaniment to desserts or cheese. If you are feeling adventurous then the occasional starter and main course certainly do benefit from a sweeter drop, after all who can forget the pairings of Sauternes and Foie Gras followed by Gewurztraminer and Curry. Okay it sounds pretty gross together but believe me they do go well and with a Pedro Ximenex and ice in a tumbler as an aperitif you could blow out on sweet wines throughout the whole meal.
I jest, it would be pretty full on but for those of you who claim not to like sweet wine I beg you to think again. The subtly and complexity of some of these wines is amazing and whilst we cannot all afford Chateau D’Yquem (the 2000 vintage from Dan Murphy’s is currently retailing at $999) we can afford the many alternatives on the market and still enjoy the benefits.
They don’t have to be heavy and liquid sugar, a taste that quite rightly puts a lot of people off so do try some of the following:
Noble One, De Bortoloi 2016 375ml $28.99
Nigl Gruner Veltliner Eiswein 375ml $38.80
Brown Brothers Patricia Late Harvest Noble Riesling 375ml $32.99
M.Chapoutier Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 375ml $26.99
St Stephans Crown % Putonyos Tokaji Aszu 500ml $49.99
Chateau d’Arche Sauternes 2009 375ml $34.99
Chateau Doisy-Daene Barsac 2007 375ml $51.99
All of these are available from Dan Murphy’s but similar wines are available from a good bottle shop near you.
Flavours to look out for include apricots, honey, peaches with a slight nutty note. I’ve also detected Raisins, Lychees and other fruits but as always you need to make your own associations. The point is they taste amazing – made from crushed frozen grapes or rotting grapes straight from the vines you can tell the winemakers heart and soul has gone into making them.
The wine I’m featuring is a Botrytis Semillon (Rotten Semillon grapes) 2013 made by Rob Paulazzo in the NSW Riverina region. The balance of acidity and fruit is excellent and reminds me of some excellent European wines much dearer than I paid for this one. It’s only available through nakedwines.com.au and retails at $27.99 for a 37.5cl bottle ($18.49 to Angels). As you can see I had it with a selection of stinky and hard cheeses and it stood up well, cutting through the strong cheeses and enhancing the taste of the milder softer selection.
The wine maker, Rob Paulazzo, is a young man on a mission. He loves the region and has enough international winemaking experience to produce something really special. Apparently his grandfather established the family vineyard over 80 years ago and he sources his grapes from the region and other cool-climate vineyards across the state. The most common comment left by the naked angel community is “not too heavy or sweet” which may be music to first timers. Do try it for yourself and you will be hooked!