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  • Natalie Shelley

Dry & Sweet. Same grape, different level of sweetness.

Dry and Sweet was the topic of Marlow Wine Society’s most recent wine tasting with Keith, one of our longest standing members, presenting the eight wines of the evening.

Keith began the tasting by introducing the theme: to show that although wines were made with the same grape, the results could be completely different. He demonstrated just that during the course of the evening with wines from four different grapes, with each pair grown in the same country. The results were a dry and sweet wine from each, poles apart in the level of sweetness, in these instances due to differing methods of production. The main lesson was that the level of sweetness in the wine can be controlled by stopping the fermentation process before the yeast turns all the natural grape sugar into alcohol.

The wines of the evening were as follows:

The dry wines

1. Wine: Lucchine; Grape(s): Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella; Area/Appellation: DOC Valpolicella Classico; Producer: Tedeschi; Year: 2016; ABV: 12.5%; Price: £ 11.10; Source: Italian Continental Stores, Maidenhead.

With cherries and redcurrants on the nose, this very dry, lively red wine with blackberry undertones is to be served young and possibly chilled.

2. Wine: Savignus; Grape(s): Grenache Noir; Area/Appellation: IGP Pays D’Enserune; Producer: Domaine Castan; Year: 2016; ABV: 14.5%; Price: £ 11.03; Source: Watlington Fine Wines, Watlington

This is the most popular wine sold at Watlington Fines Wines. A dark, dense red colour with raspberries, cherries, vanilla and coffee on the nose leading through to a fruity taste with subtle tannins.

3. Wine: Roya; Grape(s): Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains; Area/Apellation: Samos; Producer: Nopera Winery; Year: 2013; ABV: 13.5%; Price: £ 18.00; Source: Maltby & Greek

From the Greek island of Samos, only one mile off the coastline of Turkey, this wine has floral, fruity apricot and pineapple aromas on the nose and pineapple, lime and pear on the palate with a slight minerality. This wine has a sweet taste but with only 2% residual sugar. Possibly to be served as an aperitif.

4. Wine: Electrico Fino; Grape(s): Pedro Ximenez; Area/Appellation: D.O. Montilla - Moriles; Producer: Bodegas Toro Albala; Year: NV; ABV: 15%; Price: £ 13.16; Source: Vinissimus, Barcelona

Immediately identifiable by its quirky light bulb-shaped bottle, this refreshing white is a favourite in the Cordoba area of Spain to accompany tapas. With notes of toast and biscuit on the nose, there was a general consensus among members that it tasted like diluted sherry.

The sweet wines

5. Wine: Capitel Fontana Recioto; Grape(s): Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella; Area/Appellation: DOC Valpolicella Classico; Producer: Tedeschi; Year: 2010; ABV: 14.5%; Price: £31 (50cl); Source: Italian Continental Stores, Maidenhead

The first of the sweets was this very dense looking wine with earthy, smoky plums and prunes on the nose and a more subtle blackcurrant, chocolate and cherry on the palate. Known locally in Italy as “a meditation wine” *. Members thought this similar to port, not as sweet but better.

6. Wine: Maury Grande Reserve; Grape(s): Grenache Noir; Area/Appellation: Maury App D’Origine Protegee; Producer: Domaine Pouderoux; Year: NV; ABV: 15.5%; Price: £ 11.49 (50cl); Source: Waitrose Cellar

Old vine grapes are hand-picked and left outside in containers to concentrate flavours and give colour to the grapes producing a wine with prunes, figs, orange, vanilla and marzipan on the nose echoing through more subtly to the palate.

7. Wine: Samos Vin Doux; Grape(s): Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains; Area/Appellation: Area Protected Designation of Origin Samos; Producer: United Winemaking Agricultural Coop. of Samos; Year: 2017; ABV: 15%; Price: £ 8.99; Source: Waitrose Cellar

With a nose described as “mellifluous” by one of the members (that’s ‘pertaining to honey’ to you and me), this surprisingly good value wine also had tones of butterscotch, candy and flowers on the nose and a pleasantly sweet taste without the sometimes-cloying sensation that comes with some sweet wines.

8. Wine: Gran Barquero; Grape(s): Pedro Ximenez; Area/Appellation: D.O. Montilla - Moriles; Producer: Perez Barquero; Year: NV; ABV: 15%; Price: £ 9.99 (50cl); Source: Waitrose Cellar

Made in a similar way to wine No. 4 but additionally some of the grapes are taken away, concentrated and added back to give a wine of prune juice appearance. With raisins, figs, prunes and exotic fruit on the nose, the palate hints of plums and coffee. Would go well with a sweet pudding.

As usual the members voted on their favourites and No. 3 – the Greek Roya - came out top for the drys and No. 5 – Capitel Fontana Recioto - for the sweet wines.

* The term "meditation" wine (vino meditazione) simply refers to very rich, often sweet wine to be enjoyed by itself without food. A famous Italian wine writer Luigi Veronelli described meditation wines as "very complex and unusual. Should be enjoyed on a long winter evening, sip by sip by the fire….".

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