MARY-THÉRÈSE BLAIR hopes we are not calling time on dessert wine just yet.


recently that started with the confronting statement, “The death knell is tolling for dessert wine”. This made me sad. The rest of the article didn’t reveal anything I didn’t already know: sweet wines no longer sell as they once did, particularly in restaurants. We are feeling the pressure of the cost of living crunch and the addition of another seemingly decadent and pricey wine at the end of a meal may seem like a bridge too far for most consumers.

They’re expensive to produce, too, so common sense dictates that it’s foolish for wineries to invest in the production of a costly wine that isn’t going to sell.

Perhaps the demise of dessert wine is a sign of the times and shows that these wines aren’t recession proof. My hope is that when we return to a time of fiscal affluence, dessert wines will return to vogue. Wouldn’t that be sweet?


Those wines offering an outstanding mix of quality and price are awarded Best Buy status. Price points differ, depending on the varietal, but if you see the Best Buy sticker you can rest assured you’re getting a great wine at an excellent price. Look out for the sticker on wine bottles at all good wine retailers.


The judges who tasted the Champagne also tasted the dessert wines.

TWO YEARS AGO the 2012 Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes was the top wine in this category and it would be simple to say there’s nothing new to report, but it would also be incorrect. Wines of this calibre are most certainly consistent when it comes to quality, but no two years are ever the same and therefore no two of their wines are the same. So while this wine bears the same logo as the previous top 2012 vintage, 2016 is a different beast indeed.

The 2016 is a blend of 90% sémillon and 10% sauvignon blanc. The grapes were hand harvested over four individual picks between 22 September and 9 November. When we talk about selective picks we are not referring to bunches of grapes but to individual grapes which are selected depending on the level of botrytis present in the grape. Botrytis cinerea is also known as noble rot, a beneficial fungus which dehydrates the grape causing it to raisin and shrink. The end result is extremely sweet berries which can be made into a rich and lusciously sweet wine. Although single berry picking is a time-intensive and laborious task, the 2016 harvest was generous and rewarding with a complex, rich harvest which subsequently became the wine that wowed our judges.

Mid-gold in the glass with a rich and inviting nose resplendent with honey, cream, spice, caramelised pears and crushed cashew both on the nose and through the palate. Well-handled oak is evident and the rich, lusciousness of the palate is perfectly balanced by the crunch of the bright and vibrant acid present. (A)

2 / De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2019 (NSW, Australia) ★★★★★ - 4 $42

A deep orange-gold in the glass with rich aromas of butterscotch, toffee apple and full of warm, ripe tropical fruit on the nose. The palate is layered and big with juicy apricots and vanilla. Lusciously sweet but beautifully balanced. (B)

3 / Peregrine Charcoal Creek Riesling 2017 (Central Otago) ★★★★ - 2 $35

A late-harvest example that is an attractive mid-gold colour. An understated style with lovely botrytis and ripe lemon citrus, makrut lime and stone fruit aromas on the nose and through the well-balanced and lithe palate.

4 / Wooing Tree 1401 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2022 (Central Otago) ★★★★ - 4 $42

Pale coloured with a nose that immediately reveals its gewürztraminer foundations, dried spice and rich turkish delight aromas abound on this aromatically expressive example. Lovely acid balance against the restrained sweetness present alongside tropical florals and a hint of intoxicating musk.

5 / The Ned Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 5 $26

A fiesta of tropical aromas – citrus, pineapple, pawpaw and mango – dance together on the nose alongside hints of ginger and beeswax. That palate is well plush but very well balanced with fantastic acidity and lovely length.

6 / Wairau River Reserve Botrytised Riesling 2022 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 5 $30

Rich and honeyed with lime citrus and classic dried-apricot characters on the nose. The palate is rich and sweet, without being overdone and the apple character present gives the wine a fresh crunch that gives the palate a lift.

Awatere River Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2018 (Marlborough)

★★★★ - 4 $29

Mt Difficulty Long Gully Bannockburn Late Harvest Riesling 2016 (Central Otago) ★★★★ - 9 $35

Mt Difficulty Silver Tussock Tinwald Burn Noble Riesling 2016 (Central Otago) ★★★★ - 2 $40

Saint Clair Noble Riesling Godfrey’s Creek Reserve 2018 (Marlborough)

★★★★ - 5 $29.90

The King’s A Sticky End Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Marlborough)

★★★★ - 3 $32


(A) Glengarry (B) Hancocks





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