Tasting Notes - Top 10 sweet and fortified wines

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Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, authors of Taste Food and Wine

Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, authors of Taste Food and Wine

Taste Food and Wine 2009 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Sweet and fortified wines don't get nearly as much attention as they deserve. Often relegated to the end of a meal, new styles, and new drinking trends should see some of these great beauties take centre stage.

Turkey Flat Pedro Ximénez    NV    $29.00   
Pedro’s Cousin Pierro Ximénez made a fleeting appearance at The Great Australian Red dinner at Gianni’s this year, thanks to a rather ill-informed but delightful waiter who introduced this new member of the Ximénez family to us in the form of a jus drizzled over a duck leg terrine! Whenever we talk about this variety, we remember that night with a smile and toast Pierro while we drizzle this sensational wine over legs and all sorts. Tasting like boozy raisins and dark powerful spirit, just make sure the leg you're aiming for is not a turkey leg, or you will need a second bottle.     

D’Arenberg The Noble     2007    $30.00   
The decadence and rumbustious nature of this mighty sweetie mirrors its owner and his fantastic theatrical outfits. Whenever we meet Chester Osborn we feel compelled to say, "You didn't let us know it was fancy dress!" and he winks back at us like we are naughty boys. If you are feeling dangerous and want to blow your guests away with a hedonistic and gallactically enthusiastic performance, then give centre stage to this peach crumble flavoured sweetie.

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon     2006    $30.00   
This is Australia's most famous sweet wine, and justly so because it is another iconic creation that never misses a vintage. We have tasted every wine since the inaugural 1982 (and we are looking forward to the anniversary release next year!). This 2006 continues an unbroken line of excellence with its crème brûlée toastiness and cinnamon and baked peach notes oozing out of every corner of the glass. Its core of lemon/grapefruit acidity and excellent length mark this as another vintage to adore.   

Seppeltsfield Grand Muscat 
  NV    $30.00       
To step into the Seppeltsfield winery in the Barossa Valley is to walk right into the middle of the heritage of the Australian wine industry. A glass of this wine will have the same effect. Very dark in colour, but in no way earthy, tannic or woody, this is a wine that parades its roasted coffee bean, Black Forest gateâu and port-soaked fig flavours. How such an estate can craft a Grand Muscat (aged for between ten and fifteen years) in a big bottle at this price is beyond us.                                    

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Clare Valley Riesling
    2008    $37.00   
In light of the fact that 2008 is clearly a fantastic vintage for Clare Riesling (and we have a stunning selection in this line up) it follows that Mount Horrocks' legendary Cordon Cut is an absolute stonker, too. And, like the dramatic dry Rieslings, it has a burst of freshness in its heart that, no doubt, will allow it to age for longer than ever. This theory is borne out by its grapefruit and wild honey flavours which are so determined and single-minded that we think this is one of the most entrancing MHCCRs in years.
Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat     NV    $40.00
If you're looking for a present for a loved or lusted one then get your paws on this beautiful bottle of Muscat. It looks as good as it tastes and it tastes better than any South Australian Muscat we have seen this year. With a highly polished mahogany hue and Christmas spice flavours, this wine is red fruit scented, not black, which means you can conceivably drink a couple of glasses because it slips quickly over the palate, making it an ideal bottle to plonk in the middle of the table at a dinner party. Just don't expect there to be any left when your guests leave two days later.                                                 

Taylor’s LBV Port    2002    $40.00
Without question the finest Late-Bottled Vintage Port of all. This is a masterful creation from the legendary house of Taylor's. As dark as Batman's cloak and every bit as powerful as the caped crusader himself, this mighty wine will amaze your guests with its complexity and impact. The great thing is that it will last for a month if you can't finish a bottle, you lightweight!   

Pegasus Bay Aria Late Picked Riesling     2007    $43.00
We know Matt and Lynette at Peg Bay well, and always expect greatness in the bottle, but with 2007 Aria they have completely exceeded even our wildest expectations. A full bottle will do eight large glasses for a dinner party, making this eminently affordable with its exotic, spiced honey and lemon nose and just-baked almond croissant nuances. Cheers guys - love your work.   

John Forrest Collection Noble Riesling     2006    $52.00   
This is a proper, world-class sweet wine with ripe guava fruit and layers of complexity. This is a mighty price to pay for a half bot, but whoever gets the pleasure of drinking this wine with you will love you forever because it is New Zealand's finest sweet wine. If you are a tight-wad then you could always drop down a level to its  younger brother, Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling 2006 (Marlborough, Screw Cap, $35NZ). We, however, cannot guarantee eternal love with this wine. Would a week suffice?   

Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat    NV    $116.00   
Merchant Prince? Bollocks. There’s nothing prince-like about this offering - it is the King. This wine has a lifetime membership to our book and the only question we have for Colin Campbell is why he’s not bottling it in magnums! Amazingly concentrated, with incredible fruit, balanced by savoury, powerful acidity this is the ultimate Muscat experience. But why is it so bloody expensive? There is one simple reason. These grapes were picked at a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth – this wine predates civilisation as we know it. This tincture was the inspiration for the Pyramids of Giza, those cool statues on Easter Island, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (although it has to be said that they were a bit of a mess, but at least they caused a stir at the time) and Madonna's silver conical boobs. In short, this wine has made the earth and all of us in it the way it is today.

Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2008

VisitVineyards.com Members can purchase Taste Food and Wine 2009 from our online partner Seekbooks at a 12.5% discount, postage and handling extra.



  • Barossa Valley (SA)
  • Clare Valley (SA)
  • McLaren Vale (SA)
  • Rutherglen (VIC)

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May 26th, 2009
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