Wednesday, 19 July 2006

dessert wine & high tea

Wine Angels

Slinky Minx, creator of the birthday cake extraordinaire, has other secret talents. She is also the Platoon Commander of the Wine Angels, a brigade of alternating winos that sip and slurp their way through blind tastings.

Two weekends ago, the Platoon Commander invited me to her latest tasting: Dessert Wine High Tea.

Each of the eight invitees were charged with bringing a dish that could be served at a High Tea and we ended up with homemade aioli and freshly blanched vegetables, dainty sandwiches including curried egg and smoked salmon, a platter of wonderful Italian cheeses, tiny warm quiches, strawberry pavlova, sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce, raspberry clafoutis and my own pears poached in spiced red wine.
But we were there for the wines!

Six glasses were laid down before each of us and six different wines were poured in a precise order, each bottle disguised with brown paper.

We were given paper and a pen and asked to take notes on the bouquets and flavours of each one. Then we were asked to rate the wines from our most favourite to our least favourite.

After our first tipple, we snacked on our high tea treats and chatted amongst ourselves before returning to the wines to try them again. After eating the food, we tried to locate new flavours and scents from the wine and gave our final ratings.

Two of the wines were Italian and the rest were Australian. We were asked to guess which was which and also to guess the wine styles or designations.

Since I had donated one of my highly prized bottles of Braida Brachetto d'Acqui, I already knew one of the Italian wines. For me the tasting was really about guessing the remaining five wines and enjoying a glass of the Brachetto d'Acqui.

Here are the wines we drank and included are an odd assortment of comments about each wine that came from the group as a whole.

2004 Marcarini Moscato d’Asti (La Morra, Piemonte, Italy) 5%
- light touch
- simple fruit
- slight spritz
- floral
- heady blossom
- mild lemon tinge

2003 Delatite Late Picked Riesling (Victoria, Australia) 10.5%
- grapefruit
- citrus and lime
- mild sweetness
- crisp acid
- kerosene/Vaseline

2005 Bimbadgen Myall Road Botrytis Semillon (Pokolbin NSW Australia) 12.0%
- orange blossom
- marmalade
- apricot
- juicy peach
- viscous
- some volatile acid
- honeysuckle

2004 Braida Brachetto d’ Acqui DOCG (Rocchetta Tanaro, Italy) 5.5%
- rose
- strawberry
- creaming soda
- candied fruit
- musk
- elegant spritz
- refreshing

Campbells Rutherglen Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia) 17.5%
- raisins
- fruit cake
- toffee
- warming on palate
- very sweet

Brown Brothers Very Old Tokay (Victoria, Australia) 18%
- plummy raisin
- burnt toffee
- cold tea
- caramel
- rancio (nutty)
- warming on palate
- slightly cloying

So, I bet you’re wondering how I went on the wine guessing?

I was pleasantly surprised with myself because I guessed four from the remaining five wines. I recognised the moscato d’asti, the late pickled Riesling, the botrytis Semillon and the muscat. Only the tokay slipped from my grasp when I thought it was a Pedro Ximenez sherry! For those who know wine, apparently they are nothing alike. Oopps!

I was proud that I could recognise so many, but then I have to admit that I am a dessert wine fanatic and if I had been facing any other kinds of wines I would have failed miserably whereas other tasters in the group would have soared.

In order my favourite wines were:
1. Botrytis Semillon
2. Brachetto d’Acqui
3. Moscato d’Asti
4. Muscat
5. Tokay
6. Late Picked Riesling

Everyone’s combined overall vote from best to worse was:
1. Brachetto d’Acqui
2. Moscato d’Asti
3. Botrytis Semillon
4. Muscat
5. Tokay
6. Late Picked Riesling

I was really pleased that everyone enjoyed the Braida Brachetto d’Acqui. I've waxed lyrical about Braida before and when I discovered their brachetto I was so happy and thrilled because it’s not only delicious but it’s something unique to what most Australians drink with dessert. I was glad I could share this with others.

As for the poor Late Picked Riesling, we all agreed it was really drowned out by the other wines. They were heady and overpowering, whereas the Riesling was subtle and not as sweet. I think I would have enjoyed this wine immensely in another setting, perhaps in a Riesling tasting (hint, hint to the Platoon Commander for the next wine night).

Slinky Minx has been very serious about her Wine Angels nights and has already hosted quite a few such as Burgundy; Rhone; Cabernet; Syrah/Shiraz; Big Reds; Asian cuisine and white wines. Soon she’ll have a dedicated website and a registered business. Best of luck!

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