From the Riverina, NSW, where the style was first released by de Bortoli in 1982. With a long track record of making these unctuous dessert styles, this vintage has assorted – credible – trophies and gold medals. Its readily available with an RRP in Australia of around $80 for a full bottle, and around $40 for the half bottle I purchased- less with careful shopping. It’s the “big sibling” of the awesome value “Deen” botrytis semillon I reviewed few months ago.
Light gold colour; generous decadent scent of brown honey, cinnamon, yellow peach, and apricot stonefruit. Cashew oak is evident, but is balanced by the combination of fruit weight and dusty botrytis notes. It’s medium bodied for this style, with a very dense palate. The 170 g/l of residual sugar means the wine is very sweet, but it has bracing acidity (confirmed by the tech specs), and shows a welcome sense of restraint.
It will subdue most desserts, and is another very classy Australian sweet wine.
Drink to 2032 – at least – and 93 points.
Different ages, different variety, different hemispheres, but both provided drinking interest and satisfaction.
2008 (Forstmeister Geltz) Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Kabinett 7.5%
The company’s website is here. From the Mosel, still with a pale lemon colour. Aromatically it shows lime citrus, tropicals, spices and a sense of high acidity. The palate leads with red apple flavours, honeydew melon too, and those spices again, with a dash of pebble. Racy acid ensures the sweetness (60 g/l) is balanced. Some grip on the palate is minor quibble; the wine is drinking well.
To 2024 and 90 points.
2017 De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 botrytis semillon 11.5%
This wine is the junior brother of De Bortoli’s Noble One – more affordable , at well under $20 for a half bottle – and on its day capable of shading its more famous sibling on the wine show circuit.
The Riverina (inland NSW, Australia) is an established home of exotic botrytised Semillon (and other varieties). Lillypilly, McWilliams morning light, and other examples are worth trying. There are also some terrific VFM red wines from the Riverina, with Durif to the fore.
The style here (Semillon with heavy botrytis) is usually much sweeter than Sauternes -not as long-living, or as refined as the best examples- but significantly cheaper. They still have ample acidity to accompany the sweetness.
This wine is golden in colour, ripe with apricot, marmalade and crème brûlée. The palate shows rampant ripe tropical pineapple, and cumquat with some green fruits too. While drenched in sweetness, there is abundant citrus-led acidity to keep this wine fresh for at least another five years. It’s a rich wine style crafted to tickle the senses. Great value.
Drink to 2025 and 90 points.
Humble Australian Riverina fruit (Shiraz, Touriga, Grenache) with a minimum average age of 25 years. Screwcap, and in a 500ml bottle. Amber in colour with a touch of khaki. Toffee, vanilla, mixed salted nuts. The palate is ultra-smooth, with dried fruits, jersey caramels and fig. Clean, fresh, crisp, supple, soothing – light on its feet. It’s one of those wines that sneaks up. It has all the benefits of extended ageing, without the eccentricities that can accumulate. A classy, complete fortified wine.
Drink in good company, otherwise with a film noir and an open fire.
Drink now, 93 points.
From the Riverina, New South Wales, where the De Bortoli Noble One produces the best known example of a consistently excellent botrytis Semillon style. The Cookoothama is however, a more affordable option, and at around $22 for a half-bottle, is outstanding value.
The wine is a bright light gold colour, with voluminous scents of orange blossom, ripe apricot, vanilla icing and lime and orange marmalade. This wine is exuberant on the palate, very rich, sweet, powerful and flavour-packed, with enough acidity to avoid any cloying sensations.
This wine has enough power to match most desserts (avoid chocolate though) and is utterly delicious.
This is a wine that I would enjoy while it demonstrates its youthful precocity; a few years won’t hurt, but it’s beautifully pitched for short-term enjoyment.
Drink to 2023, and 92 points