The range of sweet wines is enormous as is their diversity. From gentle late harvest to full-blown botrytised wines; then there’s the factor of style, from variety, place, balance and other inputs such as maturation with wood or even controlled flor-yeast effects, as in Takay.
SWMBO and I invited The Normal Man and I-Spy Man together, for pre-loading, as we were heading out to a wine and food matched dinner with Ch. d’Yquem (that’s another story). We had the choice of many different wines, from bubbly to gently sweet. But we opted for full-on exoticism and decadence.
The 2015 Millton Vineyard ‘Clos Samuel’ Gisborne ‘Special Berry Selection’ Viognier was what we happily settled on. The wine comes from a section of the Te Arai vineyard, near the river, where the fruit is prone to botrytis infection. And in 2015, the Viognier, left out there, got infected in a big way. James Millton instructed the pickers to select berries properly affected and dried. The wine is thus technically a Trockenbeerenauslese, but in typical deprecating fashion, he’d rather say it’s closer to a Beeerenauslese.
No matter, the wine was gloriouslu decadent and opulent. Light orange colour, and with the subtle aromas and flavours of apricots and tropical fruits, with an overlay of orange marmalade, unfolding caramel and toffee. Unctuous on the palate, but with enough acidity for cut – just. And just enough alcohol for power, drive and line. Just a glorious exotic wine to sip on. It flowed easily, and indeed it did gum up our palates a little. But then the stickiness cleared. When we looked back at this wine and compared it to the five vintages of Yquem, it wasn’t out of place.