How raw the relationship between sweet cask white and university life. I recall my student days, frolicking with the antipodean avant-garde in the quad. Lazy backgammon games, heated Betamax debates, hurling abuse at passing-by academics. All as we indulged in a shared goon sack. Angove’s “Sweet White”, I think—if my ailing memory serves me correct. Everything so much simpler.
The rise and rise of the liquor barn has made selecting a sweet cask white a near-impossible task for the student of today. When Honi requested that I take time out from my frenzied international judging schedule to sample three under-$25 sweet cask whites, nostalgia dictated my participation. It has been some years since I last “shared the sack” and I must confess that I was impressed by all three offerings. The sweet cask whites of today have much improved complexity, balance, and a rather pillowy structure.
Golden Oak Fruity Lexia
$9.99 at Dan Murphy’s.
At rest in a tulip glass, a spherical gradient shows itself – a pale chartreuse central bolus becomes transparent at glass-contact. This wine’s surface displays a brilliant lustre that contradicts its modest price. Sweet lemongrass gives way to vegetal aromas – forgotten cheese and lettuce sandwich. Vegetarian pizza box. Watery on initial mouth contact, opening to a confused mid-palate. Cooked apple, geranium, pine resin. Energetic but lacks direction. Finish is fleeting, turpentine.
Overall: An exuberant but chaotic wine. Drink well-chilled.
Match with: Red Rock Deli Sweet Chilli and Sour Cream Crisps.
Coolabah Sweet Fruit White
$12.99 at Dan Murphy’s.
Hue is a dull, pale straw. Impressive legs – rich but light on its feet. Supple honeysuckle on the nose. Also elderflower, pineapple and lychees. Top notes of Morning Fresh. Deliciously cryptic. Sophisticated lime-cordial attack. Puckering sweetness. Butter-menthol dominates the palate. A zesty citrus peel finish with surprising poise and length.
Overall: Happily sweet, but balanced and clean. All elements are in harmony. Very classy.
Match with: Seasoned wasabi peas.
Berri Estates Fruity Gordo
Soft yellow in the glass with a green tinge. Bouquet is savoury with a multiplicity of subtle aromas – urinal cake, musky grandmother, bran biscuit. 11% ABV makes its presence known, then floral with good presence and mouthfeel. Lifted lemon-zest. Seductive peaches. Grassy finish is firm, tangy and decisive. Long and pure, balanced and clean.
Overall: A very serious fruity gordo with a smooth texture. Poise and precision beyond its price bracket.
Match with: Cracked Pepper Jatz.