If there is one thing that we can boast about at the Hotel Montiboli, it is the large wine cellar that serves the Emperador Restaurant, a well-stocked wine cellar to suit all tastes that delights our friends/clients.
In previous blog entries, we have talked about champagne or how to taste a wine. In this article, we are going to talk about unexplored sweet wines, a real pleasure for the palate that we need to discover and enjoy.
Sweet Wine-what is it and how is it made?
In Spain, due to the sun and high temperatures it is quite easy for grapes to contain enough sugar to obtain the right grade of alcohol to make sweet wines.
Usually, natural sweet wines come from grapes that contain a sugar content higher than 45g/l, whilst in Spain, due to the climate, sweet wines usually contain between 100g/l and 200g/l.
For the grapes to achieve this level of sugar, the basking technique is usually applied. It consists in leaving the grapes to dry out in the sun in order for them to dehydrate, lose water and their sugars to concentrate: a method similar to raisins.
In other countries, for example Germany, ice wines are produced, resulting from leaving the grapes to freeze, with the consequent loss of water and the concentration of sugars.
Other wines such as Tokaji or Saurtenes are the result of contaminating the grape clusters with a mould that pasifies the grapes and concentrates their sugars.
All these techniques are used to eliminate water and obtain a higher concentration of sugar, therefore a great number of grapes is required to produce the wine.
Another technique for making sweet wine is to use very ripe fresh grapes and make the wine just like any other, however during the process, the fermention is stopped and due to not completing the fermentation, there is a quantity of sugars that do not transform into alcohol, resulting in a sweet, sugary, light grape juice that is easy to digest.
Our sweet wines
At the Montiboli, we offer an extensive sweet wine list for you to savour and enjoy, we can divide them into sweet red wines and sweet white wines.
Sweet white wines
- Moscatel Casta Diva (honey harvest) DO Alicante : Is an exquisite wine, in fact, it is the sweet wine that was served at the Royal Wedding of King Philip to Queen Letizia. It comes from a small local winery and bottles of this wine are scarce. The grape used is the moscatel grape, a very sweet aromatic grape. It is one of the few that can be used for making wine or for eating. A type of grape very common of the leavante area that is at its peak, producing aromatic wines with a citrus touch. The Casta Diva has a golden yellow colour, it has a surprisingly distinct scent of overripe fruit, hints of honey and orange peel. It is sweet and syrupy with aromas reminicent of fresh flowers, roses and orange blossom. It also has a well-balanced essence of lime. It is an exceptional wine with length and character.
- Bornos Semi-sweet (Sauvignon Blanc) D O Rueda : Coming from very old unfertile vines, meaning that the concentration of the grape is higher. It has a pale yellow colour with greenish glints. The Sauvignon Blanc grape brings intensity, complexity and rich tones. It is a crisp, dry wine with good acidity and hints of fruit and herbs. It has a bouquet of citrus fruits, orange peel, balsamics, candied pumpkin and pumpkin preserve. It has a light, aromatic taste with a touch of bitter orange that brings freshness.
- Viñátigo Malvasía DO Tenerife : The Malvasia grape is grown on the Canary Islands and the use of this grape creates very sweet aromatic wines. With a golden yellow colour, you will find an aroma of roses, dried apricots and citrus fruits.
- Tokaji Aszú Oremus, Hungary : It is one of the world’s most famous sweet white wines. The Aszú wine can only be produced when there is an excellent harvest, when nature facilitates climate conditions suitable for the production of this unique wine during the best conditions of botrytis (noble rot). It is an exquisite, clean wine with a wonderful balance between sweetness and acidity. It can perfectly withstand being bottled for more than 100 years and you can determine in the wine hints of honey, exotic fruits, apricots or quince.
- Château d’Yquem. Sauterne, France : One of the world’s legendary sweet white wines, made with Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. To the eye it has a bright golden appearance, on the nose it seduces us with its aromas of apricot, quince, pineapple, almond, bitter orange, lychee and grapefruit. Whilst in the mouth we perceive a great balance whilst at the same time an incredible tension, sharp acidity and a flavour of pure fruit, simply a pleasure on the palate.
Sweet red wines
- Fondillón, Monastrell DO Alicante : Fondillón is a wine from Alicante, the only one of its kind in the world. It is one of the most vintage wines and has a special protection. It comes from the over-ripening of the Monastrell grape. It is a special wine that reaches a high natural graduation level without the need to add alcohol (it has an organic fermentation, without any additives) and it has a minimum ageing of 10 years in very unique barrels, old Alicante casks with a capacity for 1.200l that give the wine warm woody hints. To make this characteristic wine, the solera system is used (blending the oldest wines with a percentage of new ones). Fondillón is one of the highly valued historic wines, in fact, it is even mentioned the book “Don Quiote”.
Due to its long ageing, it aquires a bright amber colour. It has a bouquet of ripened fruit, dried fruit, nuts and figs, quality wood, mature wine and leather: It is light, sweet, oily, and strong with a taste of Engligh chocolate, picota cherries in brandy and has an after aroma of chocolate, almonds, mediterranean herbs with a nice finish.
- Dolç de Mendoza, Monastrell DO Alicante : Made with Monastrell, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, PinorNoir and Shyraz. It can only be produced when the healthy grapes can hold onto the vine until being harvested at the begining of December, something that doesn’t happen every year. It is a dense wine of dark cherry colour with glints of violet. On the nose, it has aromas of berries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries as well a cinnamon and cloves. In the mouth its high level of glycerin and residual sugars envelope the palate, while its tannins and acidity clean it. Undoubtedly a unique and surprising wine.
- Ports : Originating from Portugal, It belongs to the fortified wines, in other words, during the production process, a special technique is used, fortification, which adds alcohol before fermentation to boost its stability and alcohol content. Port is made with red grapes (Roriz, Borroca, Touriga y Cao) and white grapes (Malvasía Dourada, Malvasía Fina Gouveio y Rabigato). There are different styles depending on the type of ageing and the grape used.
- Pedro Ximénez San Emilio DO Xerez : A very well-known Spanish sweet wine that comes from pasified grapes. It has a deep, opaque mahogany colour. On the nose you can distinguish a balsamic background with menthol, eucaliptus, fresh straw, a sweetness of raisins and vine character. In the mouth it is dense, oily, sweet, aromatic, pleasantly simple, smooth, balanced with a sweet finish. Belonging to one of the oldest appellations of origin in Spain, Jerez.
How to marry sweet swine and when to drink it
The secret to the pairing of a sweet wine is to achieve a harmony in which both the wine and the dish compliment each other and stand out on their own without over powering the other.
So, we are going to offer a few suggestions on how to pair sweet white wines. For example, Casta Diva pairs very well with chocolates, lemon cake or lemon mousse. The semi-sweet Bornos is ideal for combining with arnadí (Valencian dessert made with pumpkin) apple pie or yoghurt sponge cake. The Viñátigo Malvasía D.O. Tenerife pairs superbly with foie and cheese. Tokají is ideal with a good foie gras, cheeses such as Stilton, Cabrales or Roquefort and also with desserts such as honey ice-cream. While Château dÝquem is recommended pairing with blue cheeses, quail, poultry dishes and even sushi.
With regards to the pairing of sweet red wines, Dolç de mendoza is delicious with blue cheese, dark chocolate or dried fruits/nuts, Fondillón with cheese and chocolates, Pedro Ximénez is spectacular with lemon panna cotta, cheese cake or nougat cake and chocolates. While ports go great with toasted almonds, smoked salmon or with desserts such as fruit salad, cheesecake, nougat or vanilla ice-cream.
With our suggestions, you may have noted when you can enjoy this type of wine… we recommend that you enjoy sweet wines as an aperitif along with some cheese, foie or dried fruits and nuts and to finish, the most common use for which these wines are noted for is to accompany desserts, chocolates, cakes and ice-creams… and at the same time liven up after-dinner conversations.
With all of the above, the only thing left for us to say is be adventurous and discover sweet wines, our wine waiter Silvestre will be delighted to present and recommend the best combinations.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the unique world of sweet wines.
Do you fancy trying them?
Articles published in 2018