Tag: Chateau d’Yquem

Nov 11 2010

Part 2, The Riverina Shines with Some of the Best Botrytised Wines!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my previous post, Botrytised Dessert Wines: Part 1, The Alchemy Process!, I mentioned how important climate was for activating the dormant spores of botrytis cinera on the grapes to create the noble rot that is necessary for making wonderfully fragrant and flavourful sweet wine.

Fortunately, Australia’s Riverina shares many climatic similarities with Sauternes, the celebrated French sweet wine region and home of one of the most famous wines in the world, Chateau D’Yquem.

Like Sauternes, the Riverina experiences early morning frost and fog late in the growing season, allowing the all important botrytised mould to develop on the grapes. While the nights are cool, the warm, dry days when intermingled with just the right amount of humidity from light rains encourage the development of the noble rot.

Australia’s most lauded botrytised wine, De Bortoli Noble One, was one of the first botrytised wines produced in the Riverina and is still a benchmark for the style. Created by Darren De Bortoli at the family winery in Bilbul, this year the winery celebrated the 25th vintage of this famous wine with the release of the the 2007 vintage.

Since 2000 the wine has been made by De Bortoli  senior executive winemaker Julie Mockton. A blend of French oaked and un-oaked botrytis semillon, Noble One shares all the hallmarks of a great Sauternes. Typically bright gold in colour, this rich, opulent wine exhibits fresh and complex aromas ranging from peach, cumquat, nectarine and floral honey complemented with hints of well integrated sweet vanillin oak. The palate is rich, vibrant and luscious with layers of flavour including apricot, peach, citrus and subtle French oak.

Under the direction of winemaker Rob Fiumara, Lillypilly Estate also makes a very fine and reasonably priced sweet wine. The Lillypilly Estate Noble Blend 2008 (rrp … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Botrytised Dessert Wines: Part 1, The Alchemy Process!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

After the sublime experience of imbibing De Bortoli’s Noble One Botrytised Semillon 2006 at our wine tasting dinner last week, I was keen to learn more about how these magical botrytised dessert wines, which had delighted Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century, are made.

Possibly one of the most intriguing aspects of botrytised wines are the grapes used in their production. They are infected by noble rot – a fungus that attacks the fruit, absorbing water and shriveling the skins. The grapes look bloody awful but the best give forth an amazing liquid that has been described as nectar for the gods!

The most acclaimed botrytised wines are the French Sauternes and in particular the ethereal wines of Chateau D’Yquem, the only Sauternes to be recognised as Premier Cru Grande Superieur (Great First Growth) in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855.

The climate of the tiny Sauternes appellation is the key ingredient: early-morning moisture late in the growing season engenders the development of mould on the grapes, activating dormant spores of Botrytis cinerea. Providing the mists evaporate each day, drying out the vines and their fruit, the mould will tend towards noble rot rather than the soddy grey rot, which happens if the weather stays too damp. The noble rot  desiccates the grapes one-by-one, concentrating the sugars as the water evaporates without developing any off-putting, mouldy flavours, and, in fact, contributing an appealing flavour all of its own.

The best Sauternes are generally made from two grape varieties: semillon,and sauvignon blanc.  At Chateau d’Yquem, the grapes are picked by hand at least six times during the harvest season to ensure that only the botrytised grapes are selected.

In general, great Sauternes are characterised by their complexity, balance, opulence, vibrancy and a relatively high acidity that helps to balance the … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Chenin Blanc: A Worthy Alternative to Sauvignon Blanc!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Dr Vino recently interviewed South African winemaker Ken Forrester, Talking Chenin Blanc with Ken Forrester of South Africa, 29 October 2010. The article caught my attention, because Forrester has made chenin blanc a specialty at his eponymous winery in Stellenborsch. I had tasted the Redgate Chenin Blanc 2010 and the Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc 2009 at the Margaret River in Sydney event last week, so I was keen to learn a little more about this aromatic and lively white wine.

In the interview Forrester explained his relationship with the grape: “It is like a cat: when you call it, it looks at you quizzically, then an hour later he’s there rubbing your leg with a look saying, ‘you called’? Same with Chenin: you put it in barrel and taste it and it doesn’t taste like much right away. But when you come back in six months, it has transformed, leaving you wondering, ‘Gee, where did that come from?’ ”

Chenin blanc is the white wine variety of the Loire Valley in France, where it is also known as Pineau de la Loire. Its high acidity gives it great versatility. Wines utilising chenin blanc range from dry to semi-sweet to rich botrytised dessert wines and sparkling whites. Well made chenin blanc is any style typically exhibits floral, honeyed aromas, tropical fruit flavours and a zesty acidity that mellows as the wine develops depth and complexity with age.

Probably the most famous French expressions of chenin blanc are the Loire’s great sweet wines. Domaine le Haut Lieu (Gaston Huet) Vouvray, for example, makes sweet wines that are almost on the same pedestal as the fabled Chateau d’Yquem. These wines are renowned for their ageability, the best lasting decades or longer.

Outside of France chenin blanc has a spotted history. In South … Read the rest