Great winemakers know that sweetness, as a condition of a grape's ripeness, exists to enliven the wine's fruit. A good, sweet white wine should never taste merely sweet or sugary; it must taste vinous; that is, like wine, not fruit syrup. Very ripe, late harvest grapes yield exotic, complex flavors rare in dry wines. The following are whites that are sweet, but finely balanced without the flavors that come from “noble rot,” the fungus that produces the honeyed taste in wines such as Sauternes. Try these wines alone on special occasions or at the table with sweet, wine-friendly foods such as paté, blue and other strong cheeses, and berries.
Marchesi di Gresy Moscato di Asti “La Serra”, Italy 2006 $15
Effervescent and light with floral and apricot aromas. Tickles the palate with lively acidity and is sublime as an aperitif.
Domaine Deletang “Chateau Boulay” Montlouis, France 2003 $26
A parfait of pears, lavender, and beeswax, this Chenin Blanc is muscular and forthright, superb with grilled pork.
Jorge Ordoñez, Moscatel de Alejandria “Especial” (Half Bottle), 2005 $18
Very peachy with a lovely rose and spice note. Sweet and refreshing—try with a bowl of berries and cream fraiche.
Seifried Riesling “Sweet Agnes”, Nelson, New Zealand 2004 $23
Vibrant and brisk with a tangy citrus component. Fantastic with custards, especially crème brulée.
Listed in order of increasing weight/intensity. Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested.
Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Étoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.
|Madison Magazine - August 2007|