Three unusual sweet wines

A sweet drop.
A sweet drop. Photo: Shutterstock

Sweet, late-picked wines usually depend on concentrating the grapes before the fermentation, using one of several methods. The botrytis cinerea fungus is common in Sauternes, Australia's Riverina and other humid places. It dehydrates and shrivels the grapes, intensifying everything inside including sugar, acid and flavour. In other regions, grapes are picked, then dried on mats under the vine, or in a special climate-controlled shed. Another method is to snip the vine's canes a few days before picking, to encourage the grapes to shrivel.

In each case, the hyper-sweet juice is only partially fermented, leaving a wine with high residual sweetness and normal alcohol. 

Centennial Vineyards Limited Release RC Dolce Classico 2017, Orange

$39 (375ml)

2014 Trentham Estate Reserve Noble Taminga
2014 Trentham Estate Reserve Noble Taminga Photo: Supplied

This style is modelled on Veronese recioto, made from rondinella and corvina grapes that are air-dried before fermenting. The colour is medium-deep red with a tinge of purple, and its fragrance suggests various red and purple flowers, including violets and old-fashioned roses, notes of licorice and almond-meal. Medium-weight and medium-sweet, it has viscosity and enough tannin to cleanse the finish and aftertaste. A great cheese wine. (Screw-cap; 12.4 per cent alcohol)

Score 92

Ageing? Drink now to eight years.

Stockists include centennial.net.au

Trentham Reserve Noble Taminga 2014, Murray Darling

$18 (375ml)

Taminga is an Australian-bred white variety. The word "noble" indicates the grapes were botrytis affected when harvested. With a deep amber colour, this has a floral, honeyed, toffee aroma that's like liquid barley-sugar. It's very sweet, without the weight of some botrytis wines. Great value. (Screw-cap; 11 per cent alcohol)

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Score 90

Ageing? Best within four years.

Stockists include Summer Hill Wine Shop (NSW); auscellardoor.com.au

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2018, Clare Valley

$40 (375ml)

"Cordon cut" or "cane cut" indicates the grapes were concentrated by dehydration on the vine, as a result of cutting the bunch-bearing branches shortly before harvest. With full yellow colour, this has a scent of honeysuckle, lemon-curd and grapefruit-rind, and tastes deliciously sweet and fruity with many permutations of citrus. (Screw-cap; 11.5 per cent alcohol)

Score 92

Ageing? Drink now to 10 years.

Stockists include Wine House, Southbank (Vic); Five Way Cellars, Paddington (NSW)