Sweet wine season, 10: Royal Tokaji’s mythical Essencia

A mythical wine. So sweet it could hardly ferment at all, made from the free run juice from selected botrytized aszu berries. Drunk from a spoon, too.

The Royal Tokaji Company Essencia 2000 Tokaji, Hungary
2.9% alcohol, 620 g/litre residual sugar. Remarkable stuff, fermented and aged in glass jars for seven years, and not technically […]

Sweet wine season, 9: Hidalgo Triana, an amazing PX sherry

This is amazing stuff. Totally mind-blowing. Very, very sweet and concentrated, but really complex, too.

Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Triana VORS 30 Years Old Sherry
Amazing stuff: rich and intense with notes of treacle, tar, figs and raisins on the nose. The palate is viscous and intensely sweet with a lovely treacle and fig savouriness as well as […]

Sweet wine season, 8: Tamar Ridge Kayena Botrytis Riesling

Having a lot of fun with sweet wines, still. Here’s another cracker from Tasmania. So pure.

Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard Botrytis Riesling 2007 Tasmania
9% alcohol. Highly aromatic with notes of melon, citrus fruits, grapefruit and crystalline fruits. The palate is sweet and pure with wonderful freshness, viscous, intense melon and citrus fruit, and good balancing acidity. […]

Sweet wine season, 7: Chaupotier Hermitage Vin de Paille 1995

This is quite serious. It’s a sweet white wine made from the Marsanne variety, picked ripe, sorted and then dried on straw mats for two months. The must typically has 350 g/l sugar, and after fermentation it’s pretty sweet, at about the same level as a regular Sauternes, with 100 g/l residual sugar. The wines […]

Sweet wine season, 6: a stunning South African

I’m enjoying this sweet wine season. Most of all, I’m impressed by just how good many sweet wines are. This one, a botrytised Riesling from South Africa, blew me away. It’s really serious stuff.

Jordan Mellifera Noble Late Harvest 2008 Stellenbosch, South Africa
11% alcohol. This Riesling is a golden colour, with a lovely nose of honeyed […]

Sweet wine season, 5: Riverby Estate Noble Riesling, New Zealand

Until recently a peculiar piece of legislation prevented New Zealand from exporting their sweet wines to the EU. Fortunately, this has changed, and now we can get to know the exciting sweet wines of Kiwiland. Here’s one from Marlborough producer Riverby Estate, which hits the mark very nicely. It’s a botrytised Riesling.

Riverby Estate Noble Riesling […]

Sweet wine season, 4: Pedro Ximenez, an extreme style

This is about as extreme as sweet wine gets. Very ripe grapes dried in the sun, then fortified and aged for a long time in old barrels in a solera system. PX can get a little cloying; this one avoids that and is quite beautiful.

Harvey’s Pedro Ximénez 30 Years VORS Sherry
From a solera founded in […]

Sweet wine season, 3: De Bortoli Noble One

De Bortoli’s Noble One is now firmly established as an Aussie icon. Since its first vintage in 1982, it has established a strong reputation as a complex botrytised sweet wine that has the capacity to age beautifully. This, the 2006 vintage, is just beautiful. It’s the second time I’ve drunk it, with consistent notes.

De Bortoli […]

Sweet wine season, 2: a Canadian Ice Wine

Ice wine, made from crushing frozen grapes, resulting in a must with sugar and acid both hugely concentrated, is an extreme form of sweet wine. The amazing sweetness is usually countered by the high acidity. Grapes have to be left on the vine, and kept healthy, through to December or even January, when they are […]

Sweet wine season, 1: Seifried Sweet Agnes Noble Riesling

I’m starting a series on sweet wines. I think they’re neglected. The truth is, as a group they encompass some of the most exciting and complex of all wines. Often, they’re fantastic bargains, even if they are rarely cheap. There are many different styles of sweet wine, and I’m starting with a rather unsual sweet […]