Jane Faulkner

Sweet fortified wines are a joy to drink.
Sweet fortified wines are a joy to drink. Photo: Robert Banks

UNDER $25

Saracco Moscato D'Asti 2012 375ml $20

Dessert shouldn't be overwhelmed by a wine that is too sweet or mawkish. For example, clafoutis, Catalan custard, fruit tarts or even tarte Tatin need a subtle, not sugary drink to match. Moscato d'Asti fits the profile and there's none better than Saracco. This is as fragrant as a spring garden with its blossom and jasmine notes. It has just the right amount of sweetness, fizz, then fresh acidity to clean the palate ready for another sip. The 2012 has just arrived from Italy. From Boccaccio Cellars.

UNDER $30

Cantina Tramin Moscato Giallo 2011 $25

At Alto Adige in the north of Italy is where you'll find Cantina Tramin, a large modern co-op looking after 290 growers specialising in gewurztraminer, pinot grigio, lagrein and moscato giallo. I love moscato giallo (yellow muscat) as it's a very aromatic variety - all florals from roses to white blossom, plus stone fruit and spice, and distinctly musky. The palate is silky-smooth and round but not overtly sweet. Given Cantina Tramin's proximity to Germany and Austria, strudel is a speciality of the region and moscato giallo the drink of choice. What, no strudel? A fruit flan will do. Try City Wine Shop.

UNDER $40

All Saints Estate Grand Rutherglen Tawny $35

Australian fortifieds are bargains considering time, and lots of it, is needed to make them. Being a grand tawny means the base wine is at least 11 years old and obviously in a port style. It's toffee-ruby hued and such a heady wine, with whiffs of chocolate, cinnamon and pain d'epice. It is woodsy, warming, sweet and luscious, yet balanced and not at all cloying. A joy to drink and a great match to cheese and dark chocolate desserts. From All Saints' cellar door.

SPLURGE

Pizzini Per Gli Angeli 2006 375ml $65

Per Gli Angeli (for the angels) is Pizzini's version of vin santo - that exquisite Tuscan wine made from partially dried grapes whose juice is pressed into old oak barrels then left for several years to morph into something quite wonderful. Much of the wine evaporates and gains complexity (the saying goes that angels steal the evaporating wine). Per Gli Angeli has an enticing amber colour and is magnificent as it opens up in the glass. It's as warm and spicy as gran's kitchen. A special wine on its own, it also matches with bread and butter pudding. From Pizzini's cellar door, King Valley.