“Sweet wines from other countries please”, so came the request from the Qiao sisters recently. I’ve known these ladies awhile now and their love affair for most things sweet; wines included. Their usual 'hunting grounds' for sweet wines are Canada, France and Germany. This time round, however, they were looking for options from other countries to delight their colleagues and friends with.
I managed to identify a few local purveyors of sweet wines for their ‘sipping’ pleasure. If you are looking for something different to try this season, these wine merchants may just be able to assist you as well.
Do you like late harvest wine from Germany, the botrytised wine from Sauternes or ice wine from Canada? If so, you'll like Austria. Austria offers good alternatives from auslese, spatlese levels to schilfwein, trokenbeerenauslese and ice wines too. Some grape varietals used in the making of Austrian sweet wines are welschriesling, gruner veltiner, samling, chardonnay, riesling and muskat ottonel.
Local merchants: Unique Food & Wines (ph: 94504322), Ponti Wine Cellars (ph: 67330369), The Straits Wine Company (ph: 8888333) and www.ewineasia.com (an on-line wine sales platform) carry Austrian sweet wines of different styles.
Like Austria, Italy offers a variety of sweet wines as well. In terms of ‘sweet and sparkling’ ones, there are the ‘white’ Moscato d’ Asti and the ‘red’ Brachetto d’ Acqui. There’s also the ‘sweet, still white’ ones made from Muscat of Alessandria and Garganega varietals; not forgetting the ‘red, still’ Recioto from Valpolicella.
Another famous sip, Vin Santo wines (made with Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes which are dried in straw mats prior to fermentation) come from Tuscany. These are similar to ‘passito’ wines produced in Apulia and Lazio regions (made with Aleatico grape varietal).
Local merchants: The Straits Wine Company is well known for its Villa M (moscato d’asti) and carries the Luna Nuova Vin Santo from Chianti as well. Auric Pacific Marketing carries Banfi’s Brachetto d’ Acqui. FBI Wines (ph: 65091030) holds vin santos, reciotos and brachetto d’ acquis as part of its portfolio. Angara Wines & Spirits (ph: 65327791) carries a Vignamaggio vin santo and a Pantelleria passito liquoroso.
Tokaji wines. At one point in history the sweet wines from Hungary were more popular than their French counterparts from Sauternes. Popular in Singapore are the Aszu and Aszu-Essencia styles. (The highest level, the ‘Tokaji Essencia ‘, is pricey, limited in supply and slightly hard to come by). Grape varietals used for these sweet wines are Furmint, Harslevelu and 4 other approved varietals. Botrytised grapes are used in the winemaking process to yield the sweetness these wines show. Aszu wines range from 3 to 6 puttonyos (as can be seen on wine labels). Aszu-Essencia holds a sweetness level higher than 6 puttonyos . The Tokaji Essencia displays the highest level of sweetness among these sweet wines.
Local merchants: Wine Tatler (ph: 64636870), Unique Food & Wines (Ph: 94504322) and The Straits Wine Company (ph: 8888333) carry a range of Aszu wines from 3-6 puttonyos and the Aszu-esscencia as well.
Vin de Constance is another sweet wine with some history behind it. If one looks at wine history, this sweet wine will be known to have held its own in European courts of centuries past. Though neglected for a period, in recent times however, it’s showing a revival in the district of Constantia (in S.Africa) where it’s produced using the Muscat blanc a petits grains grape varietal.
Local merchants: The Wine Club (www.wineclub.com.sg or ph:65933572); and www.ewineasia .com carries the Klein Constantia Vin De Constance.
It’s the festive season; try something new to thrill your palate :)
... morgun pathi
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