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7/09/2015

A “little sweetie” shines at 2015 International Sweet Wine Challenge

The 10th annual International Sweet Wine Challenge (ISWC) highlighted the diversity on offer in this category, with the top trophy presented to a Viognier for the first time. Previous winning wines have included Semillon, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer, but this year it was time for Viognier to shine.

The 2013 Freeman Dolcino (meaning “little sweetie”) is made from Viognier grapes harvested at very high sugar levels and fermented by wild yeasts in a combination of old and new oak barrels.

The trophy win also shines a light on the relatively small wine region of the Hilltops in New South Wales, which is where Dr Brian Freeman (previously professor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga) and his winemaker daughter Xanthe make this wine at their family wine company.

Sophie Otton, chair of judges, said she was “thrilled” with the result as the winning wine “highlights the skills of a small boutique producer, from the granite based Hilltops region, and stands in complete contrast to last year’s winner, the G. Gramp & Sons 2011 Botrytis Semillon”.

“A dashing mix of complexity and freshness, the wine is most distinguished by its particular flavour, a characteristic achieved by harvesting partially botrytised sweet wine from the non-traditional Viognier.

“The International Sweet Wine Challenge 2015 had a broader range of styles than seen previously, with the traditional richly botrytised Semillon and late harvest Riesling less dominant than before.

“The semi-sweet wine and frizzante filled the space, and the quality was excellent. Producers were mindful of delicacy and freshness, and walked the ever-challenging tightrope of sugar versus acid better than ever. This was exemplified by the 2014 Tempus Two Copper Moscato, a most deserving winner in this category.

“One continues to marvel at the labour of love that many of these wines represent. Being undervalued and under-appreciated, they nevertheless show what diversity can be achieved when winemakers dedicate themselves. We’ve seen all manner and form this year, from late harvest to cane cut, and noble rot across to the museum class, which particularly shows, in their evolution, how glorious these wines can become.”

2015 ISWC TROPHY WINNERS:

Best Sweet, Moscato style
2014 Tempus Two Coppers Moscato

Best Mature Sweet, Semillon
2010 Cookoothama Riverina Botrytis Semillon

Best Mature Sweet, Other Varieties
2013 Freeman Dolcino

Best Sweet Wine from Museum Class
2002 Lillypilly Estate Wines Noble Blend

2015 International Sweet Wine of the Year
2013 Freeman Dolcino

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