MARY-THERESE BLAIR finds the wines that hit the sweet spot for that postprandial pause.
The sweet wines class is never huge, but it’s important that it remains part of the mix as those who like their sweet wines adore them and I can appreciate why. A really good sweet or ‘sticky’ wine will show sweetness while retaining freshness and vibrance even when aged for years. While previously I’ve talked about the difference between noble rot and late harvest wines, there’s a new addition to these pages – ice wine. Ice wine is most commonly seen in wine regions that experience extremely cold winters. Canada is the largest producer and it is also made in central European countries where it’s known as eiswein. Ice wine is made from frozen grapes. Traditionally the grapes are left to freeze on the vine then quickly picked and processed before they can defrost. Once fermented, ice wines have a low ABV and very high residual sugar so they’re lusciously sweet and syrupy. Perfect for an after-Christmas-dinner sweet treat.
Central Otago is so well known for its stunning pinot noir that I feel the region’s aromatics are underappreciated. Central’s large diurnal range makes it the perfect location for growing aromatic grapes. The cool nights that follow long, hot ripening days ensure acid levels stay nice and high, perfect for sauvignon, gewürztraminer and, of course, riesling. It makes sense, then, that when Peregrine first planted their Bendigo vineyard in 1999, the initial plantings were pinot noir, pinot gris and riesling.
Peregrine operates a BioGro-certified organic vineyard and strives to work in tune with the land, viewing winegrowing as one part of holistic farming. Weeds and overgrowth are managed using goats and sheep, which in turn provide manure that feeds the vines. Grubs are managed with poultry, which in turn provide eggs then used for wine fining and feeding the hard- working team. With pigs and beehives, too, Peregrine has created a beautiful ecosystem from which great things grow.
This riesling is undoubtedly a great thing, a late harvest riesling, 100% hand-harvested mostly from Peregrine’s Bendigo vineyard. In the glass the mid-colour is still pale despite its age. Not an overtly opulent style, but elegant with honeyed lime aromatics and an incredible balance between sweet and acid. Perfectly harmonious and pure. Peregrine suggests that this wine be cellared for six years, but considering we’re at the six-year mark and this wine is still looking absolutely superb, we’re confident it will keep a couple more years yet.
Deep gold in the glass with notes of rich caramelised lime marmalade …2
A deep gold colour with a nicely rounded nose of butterscotch, florals, …3
Homegrown ice wine – flash frozen in the winery rather than vine …4
Mid-gold in the glass with a subdued nose with lithe aromas of …5
A beautiful brilliant gold colour, this example is weighty and rich in …6
A mid gold with aromas of stone fruit and grapefruit on the …7