(Theguardian) – Port, Madeira, sherry, Muscat … dessert wines to sup with Christmas pudding, cheese or chocs
Sivipa Moscatel de Setubal, Portugal 2015. £14.94, Weavers; Theatre of Wine; Vinoteca Port deserves more than being just for Christmas. Whether it’s being sipped with Stilton, with a single-estate, 90% cocoa chocolate bar or an outsize box of Quality Street, I’d defy anyone not to enjoy the sumptuous, dark, silky sweetness of Warre’s Bottle-Aged Late Bottled Vintage, Douro, Portugal 2014 (from £24.99, Waitrose). But port isn’t the only Portuguese festive fortified in town. There’s a dried fig and nutty richness and subtle sweetness, coupled with a zesty zing in Barbeito Rainwater Reserva Madeira NV (£13.95, Buon Vino) that is superb with a hunk of Lincolnshire Poacher and some Christmas cake, while back on the Portuguese mainland, Sivipa’s amber moscatel is tangy but luscious with citrus peel, honey and plump juicy raisins.Advertisement
Campbells Rutherglen Muscat, Victoria, Australia NV. £12.49, Rodney Fletcher Vintners; Lea & Sandeman The Sivipa has sufficient character to stand up to Christmas pudding. Another candidate for the end of the festive dinner also hails from the Iberian peninsula. PX, the viscous, molasses-like style of sweet sherry made from Pedro Ximénez grapes that have been dried in the Andalusian sun, can sometimes taste and feel like liquidised Christmas pud. An example like Morrisons Pedro Ximénez (£8, 37.5cl, Morrisons) will sit alongside or in lieu of this festive finale or poured over vanilla ice cream. Equally effective as a style with flavours and textures that rhyme with pudding is an Australian classic: Rutherglen Muscat from Victoria, which, in the case of Campbells’ reliable example, blends late-harvested wines from vintages up to 30 years old to produce its fruitcakey elixir.
Adnams Rich Dessert Wine, Anthemis Vin de Liqueur, Samos, Greece NV £11.99, 50cl, Adnams There is a long tradition of transforming the fragrantly perfumed easy juiciness of the Muscat grape into golden dessert wines all over the world. On the Greek island of Samos, the tradition is some 3,000 years old, a depth of experience that is very much apparent in the delicately honeyed Adnams Selection Anthemis, made for the Suffolk-based merchant by the island’s well-run winemaking co-op. On Pantelleria in the straits of Sicily, meanwhile, the Rallo family use the grape to make the extraordinary Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria 2015 (£36.95, 37.5cl, Field and Fawcett), the recipe a mix of dried and late-harvested zibibbo (as Muscat de Alexandria is known in this part of the world) creating an exotically alluring blend of sweet apricot lusciousness and racy freshness.
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