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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dessert wines and French Toast ....

Dessert wines, or ‘stickies’ tend to polarise drinkers. You can tell as soon as they take a sip: a smile of pure pleasure or grimace of sugar overload. The wines also fall into two categories – light, floral extremely fruity freeze concentrated styles, or the lush oily late harvest and/or botrytised (noble) style.

Freezing grape juice prior to fermentation separates ice crystals from very sweet juice – allowing the winemaker to produce a sweeter than average wine. Late harvest wines are made from grapes left on the vine till they shrivel like sultanas with a high level of natural sugar. In the botrytised style, fungus infects grapes late in the season and sucks out water content, adding a honey-like flavour. In France they call it ‘noble rot’.

These wines are usually sold in a 375 ml half bottle and the labour content is reflected the price – so the freeze concentrated wines are generally much cheaper (around $15), while the late harvest or botrytised ones going for upward of $30.

Food matches? The French like to eat pâté with their sweet wines – the rich savoury flavours complementing sweetness and acidity. Similarly, cheddars and blue cheeses are a good match. My personal favourite is with French Toast – the ultimate brekkie treat!

Vinoptima Gewürztraminer 2004 $59

Premium dessert wine from the iconic Nobilo winemaking family. Nick, son of company founder Nikola, has a winery dedicated solely to Gewürz. This is a classic example of a botrytised/late harvest, with flavours of honey, spice and citrus.

Dry River Gewürztraminer 2008 $50

Another top level wine in the late harvest style – spicy, luscious and tropical with peach, ginger and Turkish delight flavours.

Muddy Water Riesling Unplugged $25

Botrytised/late harvest, lighter style wine with voluptuous raisiny sweetness and a lively acid balance.

Phil Parker runs Wine Tours In Auckland, god help him...

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