Sommelier Wine Awards 2009: Stickies
A big spread of styles made for some tricky choices, but also impressive – and inspiring – wines for our sweet-toothed tasters
A popular section with both sommeliers and submitters alike, stickies came pouring in to this year’s competition from every corner of the globe: Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile, California, Germany... you name it, the chances are our team tasted it. Unless, of course, the name you come up with is ‘Sauternes’, since our French friends didn’t send in a bean.
Well, sod ‘em... on this evidence the world can do without them, because our tasters found plenty of excellent sweet whites to tickle the taste buds at highly competitive prices. Not only that, but there were some truly fascinating wines at the darker end of the spectrum, too, with the Vya sweet vermouth one of the most intriguing wines of the tasting.
In itself, it sparked a lengthy debate as to what you could do with it, with the consensus being that it would be a peerless match for bitter chocolate dishes.
At £24 the Carpineto Vin Santo was, admittedly, an indulgence, but it was one of those ‘love at first sight’ wines for all who tasted it, so we allowed our judges’ hearts to rule their heads. Likewise the Rabl Eiswein. Though for the more budget-conscious, the Quady Essensia offered pretty unbeatable value for money.
Four stickies was, you could argue, a bit over the top – particularly since they’re not a particularly easy sell. But our tasters stuck to their guns, arguing that the sheer variety of the wines chosen gave them plenty of options for hand-selling, whatever the food.
There was huge variety in this section, and a lot of debate as a result. We ended up with quite a big shortlist, but it was very diverse. Tom Forrest, Vinopolis
Quady Essensia 2007, California, USA
£7.05 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Apricot, gingerbread and peach, backed up by more herbaceous and zesty pink grapefruit/orange characters. Rich and ripe on the palate, the finish is nonetheless impressively fresh.
Vya Sweet Vermouth NV, Quady, California, USA
£12.43 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Roberto della Pietra guessed (reasonably) that this was a Barolo Chinato. Very herby and bitter, with intriguing orange, ginger, menthol and quinine characters. Fascinating – and one that opened up really interesting food-matching possibilities, from dark chocolate to sticky school puds.
Vin Santo Farnito 1992, Carpineto, DOC Toscana, Italy
£23.96 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Pale gold passito/vin santo style, with cooked sherry/madeira walnut aromas and a fresh nutty peach finish. ‘Sweet, subtle and fine, with a long finish,’ praised Peter McCombie MW.
Errazuriz Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Casablanca Valley, Chile
£6.11 @ Hatch Mansfield
Quite floral, with hints of camomile behind the more obvious sweet, rich notes. Big, structured and very spicy with plenty of acidity. A favourite.
Botrytis Riesling 2006, Tamar Ridge, Tasmania, Australia
£11.33 @ Novum Wines
Tropical fruit characters dominate on the nose, with a whiff of kerosene behind. Medium sweet, with nice acidity and good length. Well balanced.
‘Cordon Cut’ Clare Valley Riesling 2008, Mount Horrocks, Australia
£11.56 @ Liberty Wines
Deep gold colour, with delicious clean citrus fruits and a honeyed palate. ‘Plenty of acidity here, which makes the flavours linger on the palate,’ said Angus McNab.
Rabl Eiswein 2006, Kamptal, Austria
£23.49 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Very intense, candied oranges and figgy fruit. There’s no question but that there’s some serious quality in this bottle, and the sommeliers duly loved it. ‘Dense, beautifully made, complex and balanced,’ said a delighted Stephen Nisbet