(2017) I'm a fan of the wines of Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, the appellation of Southwest France that covers exactly the same footprint as Madiran, but whilst Madiran is for red wines, Pacherenc is for whites, many of which are dessert wines like this one. From the super-co-op that dominates the neighbouring area of Saint-Mont, the Producteurs Plaimont, it is made from late-harvested Gros Manseng grapes. It has honey and a touch of leaf tea and tobacco on the nose, a suggestion of apricot or yellow plum too. Sweet on the palate for sure, but not heavy, those stone fruit flavours persist, touches of honey and barely sugar, but a lovely tangy marmalade orange acidity to balance makes it a banker for blue cheeses, fruity desserts or foie gras. Price is for 50cl.
(2017) A white wine, but a burnished tawny colour after three weeks of sun drying on mats. Very low yields through that concentration. Skins are included in part of ferment, and it could potentially reach 17 abv, but part of must is fermented separately at lower abv. Four months in American oak. Lovely raisin and orange aromas, luscious with walnut and spice, clove-studded Seville orange. So easy to drink, unfortified, with a cherry freshness and red fruit brightness, but so much sweet syrup richness and sweetness, but retains that freshness. 350g/l sugar.
(2017) Also from dried grapes and unfortified, but from the ancient solera started in 1918. More oxidised and chocolaty, spicy with some burnt toast, some marmalade, but dark, with more bittersweet promise. There's a dustiness and earthy character, that fine spice and raciness. Price is also for a half bottle.
(2017) Another fabulous and just nicely maturing wine in the wineline's rosta, this is 100% Semillon from the Douro, described as late harvest, but surely with some Botrytis given the lush barley sugar richness and intensity. Aged in barrel, it's very much a Sauternes-like recipe, and indeed the nose with notes of honey and leaf tea, a hint of tobacco and some fragrant floral nuances has that complexity. In the mouth it is silky-textured and mouth-filling, the fat apricot cut by Seville orange, with a long, creamy, but tantalisingly fresh finish.
(2017) Disznókő is one of the great names of Tokaji, most famous of course for the fully sweet and luscious dessert wines made from grapes affected by botrytis, the 'noble rot'. This is a new and fresher take on the style, made from the same grapes (in this case Furmint), but with only a percentage of botrytised berries, the rest being harvested late but not with the noble rot. It is also given a shorter period of ageing in oak barrels. The nose is gorgeous, suffused with honey and wild flowers, touches of barley sugar and aromatic tobacco, before a palate that is medium-sweet, still with a generous texture and plenty of honey and ripe peach fruit, but a bracing grapefruit acidity, light nuttiness, and fresh finish with considerable length. Watch the video for some surprising food-matching suggestions and more information.
(2017) A few rows in one of Riverby's prime Riesling vineyards have a track record of developing 'The Noble Rot' and so are left on the vine long after the regular harvest. This is unoaked, the full aromatic panoply of beeswax, nectarine, more exotic mango and intense honey and barley sugar allowed to really sing. In the mouth the intensity gives this 11% alcohol wine huge presence: concentrated and sweet with 200g/l residual sugar, the luscious peach and nectarine, sliced through by a delicate but absolutely authoritative lime acidity. Terrific. Price for a half bottle and note: price and stockist quoted at time of review is for the 2014 vintage and if you are lucky enough to fly Air New Zealand Business Class, you can try it there.
(2017) A very familiar Wine of the Week, a stalwart of Brown Bros' range and deservedly popular. It blends two grapes, Orange Muscat and Flora (related to Gewurztraminer) which are harvested late for extra ripeness, then the fermentation is stopped at 10.0% alcohol, leaving residual sugar behind. It is definitely sweet, but feather-light and not heavy or cloying: this is a wine to match with fruity desserts, not sticky toffee puddings, where the bright tropical fruit, vivacious acidity and elegant balance comes into its own. Delightful and stuff in half bottles, and widely available. Watch the video for more information and more food-matching ideas.
(2017) Around 135g/l of residual sugar in this beautifully honeyed wine, with rich mint and barley sugar, but the lovely leaf tea delicacy. Long and has weight and texture, slippery and unctuous, but just such lovely balance, all the exotic fruit and balancing acidity for delicious complexity. 37.5cl bottle.
(2016) Named after Anges Seifried, this is a gorgeous dessert wine, fully luscious and sweet with 172g/l of residual sugar. The grapes were hand selected in several passes through the vineyard, including fruit shriveled and raisined by natural dehydration. There's that fat waxiness of ripe Riesling, a candied fruit quality, and plenty guava and lychee-like exoticism too. A big limey core of acidity keeps things fresh on the palate, despite the slippery glycerine texture and full on peach and mango sweetness. A lovely wine, long, composed and full of sweet flavour.
(2016) A modern, fresh interpretation of late-harvest and partially Botrytis-affected Tokaji style, this is thrilling and delicious in equal measure. Light gold in colour it has aromas of honey, glycerine and delicate barley sugar, the palate medium-bodied but still luscious, there's a delightful creaminess to the texture and the gently exotic fruit, trickled with honey, is beautifully balanced by the acidity. Match to lighter, fruitier desserts, foie gras or simply sip on its own after dinner. Price for 50cl.