Australia’s wine cup floweth over when it comes to its sweet wines of world class. There are two entirely different styles: one vibrant, flowery and almost painfully mouth-watering, the other complex, rich and honeyed. The first is made from cool-grown riesling, acidity and sweetness engaged in a pas de deux. The second comes from late-harvest semillon and will match to all the sweet-food options with its exotically creamy, botrytis-induced lusciousness.
Having made a couple of botrytis semillons in the mid-1980s, I can personally vouch for the fact that they are hellishly difficult to produce. Separating the juice from the skins takes many hours at the same time the press struggles to keep up with the demands of the rest of the winery. Once pressing is complete, the panic diminishes until yet more botrytis – ugly-looking stuff that it is – begins its slow passage to the fermenter.
My personal preference is for the rieslings, as they surge and bounce in the mouth from the instant they have been bottled. Then comes the second surprise with five to 10 years’ bottle age. Young or old, these are things of joy and beauty, all too often treated with indifference by those whose opinions were formed five to 10 years ago.
The hidden power of both styles is their acidity, which leaves your mouth bright and tempered.
This article was taken from the James' Fortnightly newsletter on Thursday May 30th, 2019. You can subscribe to the Halliday Wine Companion newsletters by clicking below.