Choc-full of flavour.
WHAT'S the perfect Easter wine? Perhaps a tasty white to match Good Friday'sh or a high quality anything to pair with the Easter roast. Or is it bubbly? While Easter's a chance for the family to get together - it's without the festive feel of Christmas and New Year so perhaps zz is out. ere are however eggs - lots of them, made of chocolate and therein lies a problem.
e powerful taste of chocolate is hard to match with wine and the received wisdom is the two should be kept apart. However fortied wines such as port, madeira or a sweet sherry such as a Pedro Ximinez are considered to have the sugaryness and power to overcome chocolate's brutish presence.
ere is a type of wine that could combat an Easter egg's sweetness yet its subtle nuances would be wasted in chocolate's all-pervading grip. Instead these wines would be perfect for other puddings, strong cheeses, vanilla ice cream or foie gras.
I am, of course, talking about dessert or pudding wines which are produced in most wine-making countries and can be some of the most decadent and avoursome vinos in the world - such as France's Tesco Dessert Sauternes, Hungary's Tokaji and Germany's T great 'late harvest' wines. ey can also be seriously expensive partly due to the costly way in which they're made and also because they taste so good.
So how are they made - particularly given it's the grape's sugar that yeast turns to alcohol? ere's a number of ways to ensure there's enough sugar to ferment the wine while having enough left over to make it sweet. Sugar can be added before or after fermentation or, in the case of fortied wines, alcohol is added during fermentation - which stops the yeast in its tracks before all of the sugar has gone.
However, the world's most expensive and sought-after dessert wines are produced from grapes that have, by natural processes, had their water removed - leaving behind concentrated levels of sugar (along with fruit acids and minerals).
In France's Sauternes region near Bordeaux the climate allows for a fungus called 'Botrytis' or Noble Rot to develop on the grapes that performs the drying out process. Too damp and it turns destructive grey rot so timing is crucial and the top vineyards will harvest their crop grape by grape.
Chateau de Myrat 2005 Finest Semillon is a highly-rated Sauternes Grand Cru Classe that was given a top-end score of 92/100 by the world's most celebrated wine critic Robert Parker. Made from 88 per cent semillon grapes with a splash of sauvignon blanc and muscadelle, it's a classic botrytised sweet wine with an intense, perfumed nose of marmalade with oaky hints of coconut. e super-rich taste is a beautifully balanced mix of orange marmalade, vanilla and hints of spice with a avoursome nish that can be measured in minutes.
At PS13.33 for a half-bottle from PS13.33 for a half-bottle from ACostco, it's not the cheapest but would be the perfect end to a great meal.
Tesco Finest Dessert Semillon 2009 from New South Wales's Riverina region is a more modestlypriced sweet wine produced in the same Sauternes way. Made by De Bortoli, this bright orange nectar is no stranger to top awards and the 2009 scooped International Wine Challenge (IWC) Gold and Great Value gongs. It's easy to see why. e nose is huge: packed with honey and orange aromas mixed with apricot and blossom.
Super-sweet, it coats the tongue with sumptuous orange candy avours that are so rich it's best served in small measures. It oPSers a colossal amount of avour for its PS6.79 half-bottle price tag.
Tesco Finest Sauternes 2009 scooped an IWC silver and comes in at PS13.99 for a half bottle. It's excellent: packed with sweet honeyed orange peel avours and a long nish yet it fails to reach the heights of the Myrat.
Freezing oPSers another natural way of drying out grapes and concentrating the sugar and avour - producing the worldfamous ice wines of Canada and Germany. Chateau des Charmes comes from the Ontario tourist town of Niagara-on-the-Lake which is also the world's biggest producer of ice wine. Its orangey brown 2004 is utterly stunning with concentrated marmalade, apricot and honey notes.
ere's also a particularly lovely balancing hint of acidity to cut through the sweetness.
Tesco Finest Dessert Semillon