December 4th: De Bortoli Botrytis Semillon

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

Wine Advent Calendar December 4th:  De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

Here we are, December 4th, and my first sweet wine of the 24-day wine advent calendar countdown. You might not want a sweet wine; it’s Sunday so you might be wanting a red with your roast.  But let me get this out of my system because I love sweet wines.

Here’s the story of this one. When I go to walk-round wine tastings with my pal Cambo, tradition dictates that we start with sparkles, then head for the whites, then the reds, then finally make a beeline for the sweetie table which is the biggest treat of them all.

The sweetie this time was at a wine fair organised by the delightful Mike Stoddart, manager of Oddbins  in Liverpool and was held in the Crypt at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral (nicknamed Paddy’s Wig Wam by the Scouse wags here).

I’d done a visual sweep of the room when I arrived – where were the sweeties? – and with ten minutes to go before “last orders” were called I headed to the  Australia table and smiled nicely at the young chap pouring tastings of the De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon.

The smile worked a treat, as you can see.

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon
Eerrmm … yes. I asked the chap to pour a generous measure



De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

What is it: It’s a dessert wine. I love, love, love, love, dessert wines. 

Where’s it from:  Australia. The region is Riverina  in New South Wales. Find out more  here

I’ll tell you some more: I fell in love with sweet wines when I visited De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis SemillonSauternes a couple of years ago. The wines are delicious in themselves (it’s odd that I love them so much because I don’t have a sweet tooth when it comes to food) but more than anything I admire the way these wines are made. Patience and skill  beyond measure. And who on earth discovered that mouldy grapes could produce such amazing wines.

Eeeeek!! Mouldy? Well, yes.  Don’t look away in disgust just yet …. Botrytis cinerea is a mould which develops on grapes if the conditions are just right. It needs damp misty mornings and warm dry afternoons. The rot – known as noble rot – weakens grape skins, so the water evaporates, the grapes shrivel, and the sugars and acids intensify. The grapes are then hand-picked one by one over many days by incredibly patient people.

The grape: Semillon – other grape varieties are also susceptible to noble rot.

What of the taste?  Oh my.  It has aromas of marmalade, and apricots,  and honey, and lemon citrus, and pear, and vanilla, and  – oh – the taste – the same fruity sweet richness is offset by a cleansing acidity. Which sets you up nicely for another glass. Yummmmyyyy.

The small print. It is 11% abv and was marked at £9 for the 37.5cl bottle on the Australia table. Mike tells me he still has about a dozen bottles in the Liverpool Oddbins shop but you might have to hurry.

I’ve also found it here on Amazon for £45.57 for a case of six, which equates to about £7.60 each.

And you don’t have to think desserts for this wine. It would be perfect next to slithers of blue cheese.

December 1st: Alma Cersius, a yummy red

Alma Cersius wine review

Sometimes I just want to give wine a hug.   A huge squeezy one – they’re not very good on giving hugs back but they’re quite good at toe tingles.

I remember the day I tried this wine. It had been Proper Horrible on two counts = the weather and feeling miserable. I’d started a diet but needed a wine hug because I felt low.

I’d cooked a MASSIVE dish of cottage pie, all properly allowed in my diet. Aha,  said the devil on my left shoulder. Wine.  But nooooooo said the angel on my right shoulder.

From the picture you can tell which shoulder won.   I shrugged off the guilt and gave the wine a hug.

Alma Cersius 2014 wine review

Alma Cersius 2014

What is it: It’s a red. A bloomin’ lovely one too.

Where’s it from:  It’s from the south of France, the Coteaux du Libron area  in Languedoc-Roussillon.

I’ll tell you some more: I love that the Cersius vineyards are “kissed by the wind of Cers”. Romans believed that Cersius the wind god brought beneficial qualities for maturing fruit.

The grapes:  It’s a blend of syrah (50per cent) and then equal measures of merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

It was aged for six months in oak and had some stirring of the lees.

Cersius Rouge 2014 wine review

Never mind the techie stuff:  Ok, I’ll move on –  it has aromas of deep red fruit and spices that you can bury yourself in. The cushion softness of black fruits speckled with spice weren’t put off by my overdose of pepper on the pie and above all that a cloak of sweet vanilla comforts and softens.

Anything else?: Yes. It was selected as one of the Sud de France Top 100 wines after a blind tasting led by wine expert Tim Atkin.

The small print: It is 13.5% abv and is available at Avery’s at £10.99 –  You can buy here