Tasting T3.12 New World Sweet Wines

So, sweet wine. As you will have noticed from the title this article is focusing on New World sweet wines. So you won’t find your Sauternes or Tokaji here. Instead you will find a very interesting mixed bag of wines. You will come to recognise some of the grape varieties used here, we have Vidal, Muscat and Malbec along with others. These span from all over the world, from Canada to China and then Australia including others. The best word to describe this tasting is ‘interesting’. I know that is boring because it is generally a very over-used adjective. But some of these wines (if not most) were really quite spectacular and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Anyway, I will try to give you as much information as I can when we come to each winery. 

The Wineries are:


This was Canada’s first estate winery which was established on 31st July 1975. The founders made history as they were the first estate to be given a licence in Canada since the Prohibition. In 1974 the first vines were planted, waiting for their licence in 1975. Throughout the early years the winery bought lots of acres of vineyard land in order to double, even triple their size. In 1984 the first Icewine harvest of naturally frozen grapes was produced, the 1983 harvest was eaten by birds… literally. In 1991 Inniskillin won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vin Expo in France with their 1989 Vidal Icewine. Over the course of the last 20 years they have won many accolades and will surely continue to do so.

Chateau Changyu

Located in Golden Ice Wine Valley in Liaoning the Chateau is located beside Huanlong Lake. The Chateau was a joint venture by Changyu and Orose Company who produce Ice Wine in Canada. The Chateau has the largest ice grape plantation with 333 hectares across the valley. Albert Milan is the current chief winemaker of the Chateau and has a well of background knowledge from working in Canada. At present their wines are sold all over the world and are consistently getting top marks from critics.

Vina Morande

Pablo Morande founded Vina Morande in 1996, he wanted to be the first to plant vines in the Casablanca Valley. He also wanted to plant varieties that were lesser known and to draw attention to the terroir of the area. Their range of wines now is really rather large, they have specific lines of wines that they produce which all showcase the different quality levels of the terroir that they have available to them. These are also, of course, at different price levels. They are a pioneering estate in Chile which has become a household name across the world.

Campbells Wines

Campbells Wines was established in 1870 with John Campbells first vintage. He went to Australia from St Andrews in Scotland. Over 154 years there has always been wine production happening at this estate, even through the tough times in the 1900’s. This estate has a plethora of grape varieties, quite literally nearly all of the main varieties you can think of in both white and red wine. They continue to win awards nearly every year and their Rare Muscat has won several awards throughout its career.

Klein Constantia

Klein Constantia has a very long history, starting in 1652 when the first vines were planted. Throughout the centuries wine was consistently produced and was extremely well-received around the globe. So much so that Napoleon reportedly requested a glass of Vin de Constance on his deathbed. Klein Constantia was actually founded however in 1824 when the vast estate in Groot Constantia was divided between Jacob Pieter and Johan Gerhard, the latter founding Klein Constantia. The estate suffered turmoil in the late 1800’s with the arrival of vine diseases and a shift in geo-politics. However, in 1980’s the estate was purchased by Duggie Jooste and in 1986 the first modern Klein Constantia vintage was released. The estate is known as one of the best in the world and continues to produce outstanding wines.  

Achaval Ferrer

Achaval Ferrer have a philosophy of minimum intervention. They have fundamental pillars that they base their wine making on. Their centennial, own-rooted vines produce extremely low yields. Their vines are own-rooted and pre Phylloxera, this greatly impacts the way their wines are produced. More intense colours, deeper colours, lower in pH and with a fantastic potential to evolve over long periods of time. They also plant their vines in strategic, high density layouts to make the vines compete amongst themselves. This means that their structure changes to produce more concentrated berries. They produce extremely high quality wines and are definitely one to have in the cellar.

Tonight’s tasters are David, Harry, Kim & Jen. Apologies no photos again!! I got a bit too flustered with this one and just cracked straight on... I promise the next tasting will have photos!

Inniskillin Icewine Gold Vidal Niagara Peninsula 2018

Note: Lovely aromas of peaches, marmalade and honey on the nose. Seriously glossy in the glass with a creamy and luscious body. Lots of oranges, honey and marmalade with clean cut acidity. Freshness and vibrancy nicely lifting the weighty palate giving a good sense of complexity and balance. There is clear depth and concentration of flavour here and is drinking beautifully now. Will also evolve nicely over the coming years.

Château Changyu Golden Icewine Valley Vidal 2015

Note: Gorgeous oranges, citrus, honey and marmalade aromas on the nose. A lovely zippy citrus aroma runs through this. On the palate those lovely honey and marmalade notes dominate on the palate with gorgeous rangpur limes really cut through. A thick and creamy body with those limes and acidity giving such vibrancy of fruit. The finish is nice but unfortunately dies away quite quickly. This is a very good sweet wine and for something different I would certainly recommend it. I would drink up now. 

Morande Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Hand harvested with fermentation taking place in used French oak barrels. It is then aged for a period of 8 months in barrel and 2 months in bottle.

Note: Lighter in both aroma and flavour here. There are certainly all the hallmarks of a great sweet wine here. There is great fruit with oranges, citrus and baked stone fruits on the palate. Those heavier notes of honey and marmalade bringing excellent mouthfeel on the mid-palate. There is a nice medium body here with good balance and the acidity giving nice citrus with it but does rather die off. This is a good wine but the body lacks conviction and the finish is short. It is very good but the aromas at the beginning certainly gave up a lot that the body could not cover. This is very close in style to a Sauternes and is a much cheaper option. I would certainly recommend trying it.

Campbell Rutherglen Merchant Prince Rare Muscat NV

Grapes are left late in the season to achieve the best ripeness. Only selected parcels are chosen to be added to the Rare Rutherglen Muscat solera. The base wine is well over 70 years old and only wine of the highest standard and from excellent vintages is able to be added to the solera.

Note: Dried prunes, figs and dates. This is dark, powerful and intense. This is honestly closer to syrup than it is to wine. It is punchy on the palate, big and bold with all the prunes, dates and raisins you could ask for. There is a hint of acidity which does admittedly assist but doesn’t do much in the way of freshness. This is mega and is extremely creamy on the palate. A very long finish and not something I was personally expecting. Drinking perfectly now.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2007

100% Muscat de Frontignan. Ageing for 1.5 years in 50% new 500L Hungarian and French oak barrels. Then another 1.5 years ageing in large wooden foudre.

Note: Back to lots of citrus, oranges, marmalade and orange zest on the nose with good floral aromas. The nose certainly offers up powerful aromas which perhaps were sleeping at first. Powerful marmalade on the palate with lovely honeyed stone fruits and baked apples, gorgeous orange peel and white flowers. Medium to full bodied with gorgeous acidity that zips through those powerful cooked stone fruit flavours. Lovely balance and complexity here with excellent freshness. This is a top quality wine and an absolute must. Drinking beautifully now and will continue over the next decade.

Achaval Ferrer Dolce Malbec 2013

Natural fermentation with 12 months ageing in second use French Oak barrels.

Note: Sweet red cherries, raspberries and kirsch aromas. On the palate a luscious and thick body on the palate with fantastic fruit forward flavours. There is good density and weight on the mid-palate with great sweet cherry flavours running all the way through. Lovely acidity which offers great freshness and vibrancy with balance and complexity adding great layers of fruit. There is a great long finish which is nice and muscular. Drinking perfectly now and will continue over the coming decade.


These wines are all so different. I mean arguably they should be, they are all from different countries and nearly all are from different continents! However, it was also really interesting to see how similar some of them came to be. For example the fruit driven Inniskiliin and Changyu had serious similarities and whilst they are the same grape variety, they come from completely different terroir.

In the world of sweet wine you have your classic Sauternes, your Muscat from Beaumes de Venise, your Tokaji which are all very well-known. Whilst Icewine is becoming more popular many of these wines here are not particularly well-known and that is a shame. As you saw from the tasting notes (and will see from the ratings!) these wines are compelling and definitely deserve a seat at the sweet wine table. 

The scores:

Inniskillin 2018 – 95 Points

Chateay Changyu 2015 – 90 Points

Morande 2013 – 91 Points

Campbells NV – 96 Points

Klein Constantia 2007 – 96 Points

Achaval Ferrer 2013 – 95 Points

Some really interesting wines here. I hope you enjoyed the article as always!

We will be back next week (hopefully!) with another 60th Tasting… we’re rattling through them at the moment. I hope you found a wine for thought here 😊

Harry Vernau

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