Tuesday, June 23, 2009

McWilliams Riverina Botrytis Semillon 2003

‘The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light.... he who works for sweetness and light united, works to make reason and the will of God prevail.’
Matthew Arnold 1822-88

Now just for the record, I am not a religious person, though with the surname Cohen I have been known to cast myself as a very orthodox ‘Catholic Jew’.

The inclusion of this poem from Matthew Arnold is not so much about God, but ‘The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light...’, and with this we have today the wonderful and amazing McWilliams Riverina Botrytis Semillon 2003. To me, this is the most perfect wine I have tasted this year – absolute pure joy!!

In Australia, the most famous or well known Botrytis wine is De Bortoli’s Noble One from Griffith NSW. But it has been McWilliams Winery since the 50’s who have been toying with this wonderful wine style, with the first real wine being the 1958 Pedro Sauternes made from Pedro Ximinez grapes which accidently botrytised.

Botrytis wine comes about when the fungus Botrytis cinera infects the grape when it has been split by the elements. From this a mould is produced, and with the help of the weather and certain vectors, entire rows become infected with this wonderful stuff. The most famous producer of Botrytis wine is Chateau d’Yquem from Sauternes in Bordeaux, with wines fetching thousands of dollars in the best of vintages. What it producers is a heightened sugar content, with a huge feel of ripeness.

Botrytis does not infect all grapes the same, with it having prejudice of those varieties that form tight bunches; Semillon, Savvy B, Chardonnay being the most common, with Shiraz sometimes coming under its spell (get some Wirra Wirra Botrytis Shiraz 1997 if you see it out there).

So, onto our wine. The colour is a gorgeous orange/brown which just screams drink me!!! The nose is quite restrained early with saffron and marmalade; yet the longer in the glass it shows its true intent being more marmalade and burnt orange. In the mouth the wine is warm with treacle, toffee, dried apricot and pure bliss – the length just seemed to go on forever.

This is truly a great Australian wine that should rank with the more famous Granges and Hill of Graces.

Drink with foie gras
Drink till 2016

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