Sometimes called pudding wines, or stickies, dessert wines have been made since Roman times when honey was the sweetener of choice. These days winemakers have a plethora of dark arts they can call on to produce these sweet elixirs - let's have a look at a few:
The passito method is a speciality of the Italians. It
involves laying the grapes out to dry. During this time as much as 40% of the fruits weight is lost to evaporation,
concentrating the sugars and creating a lusciously sweet wine. The Muscat
family of grapes is often favoured by sweet wine makers and this example is
simply delicious! A characteristically grapey nose leads to a palate full of
ripe apricot with zesty citrussy finish.
In South-West France winemakers typically take an alternative approach to producing their wines, encouraging the development of a fungus called Botrytis Cinerea. More commonly referred to as Noble Rot, as unpalatable as it sounds this technique can produce some stunning sweet wines. The mold dehydrates the grapes, concentarating the flavours and sugars whilst also imparting a trademark marmaladey flavour.
Monbazillac is a village not far from the more famous dessert wine producing commune of Sauternes and can absolutely rival its more illustrious neighbour for quality! Domaine Grange Neuve is made from a blend of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc and manages to combine its delicious sweetness with a wonderful refreshing acidity.
Drink alongside your favourite blue cheese for a true taste
Another way to maintain sweetness in a dessert wine is to fortify (add spirit) before all the sugar has been fermented. In Rutherglen, Australia they combine this technique with extensive oak ageing to produce a gloriously rich, lusciously sweet wine noted for its deep colour and complex flavours.
Stanton and Killeen's flagship fortifieds make up 70% of their production, coming from 86 hectares of vines - some of which are up to 100 years old. Rich mahogany brown, with a lovely raisined character - this really is Christmas in a glass!
Perfect after dinner treats for the festive season.
If you would like to talk to me about your wine requirements call 07973 690726 or tweet me @winesbynectar.
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