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  • Quentin Von Essen

Sweet Escapes | Dessert & Fortified Wines

From elegant Semillon to opulent, aged Muscat, Australia’s dessert and fortified wines have a long and distinguished history, and are considered to be some of the most unique wines in the world.


Until the mid-1960s, dessert and fortified styles were the most popular wines in Australia. These days table wines lead the charge, but those sweetly decadent wines are still highly sought after. Made in regions across the country, Australia’s dessert and fortified wines vary in style but never fail to impress.

Fermented in the same manner as conventional white wines, dessert wines tend to be intensely flavoured, deeply gold in colour with bouquets of dried apricots, a rich sweet flavour and a sharp acid finish. Affectionately known as ‘stickies,’ these sweet wines are a sensational accompaniment to fruit desserts. Alternatively, they can stand alone as a replacement for dessert at the end of a meal.

Dessert and fortified wines range from elegant Riesling and Semillon dessert wines to silky Topaque (made from the Muscadelle grape), spiced Tawny Port and luscious fruit cake tasting Muscat. They’re generally high in sugar and alcohol, making them sweet and sticky.

Fortified wines such as Sherry, Port, and Madeira are made by adding alcohol (brandy spirits) during fermentation. This kills the yeasts that convert sugar to alcohol, leaving the wine very sweet and increasing the alcohol level to between 15 and 20%. Generally, the earlier the spirit is added, the sweeter the resulting wines. After fortification, the wine is left to mature in oak barrels, maturing into complex, aromatic wines with an immense concentration of flavour and colour. Some of Australia’s most impressive, fortified wines are aged in barrels for up to 100 years or more, giving them an intense richness that’s hard to forget.


A. DRAYTON'S FAMILY WINES Old Decanter Aged for 21 years in Drayton's Solera System, this lovely old tawny is a blend of reserve fortified wines, matured and stored in the cool of Drayton's Pokolbin cellars. TASTING Aromas of spicy woods and dried fruits. Complex nutty flavours and an extremely long, warm finish on the palate.

FOOD MATCH All desserts, especially dark chocolate and rich mud cake. Perfect with roasted, mixed nuts.

CELLARING Whilst drinking extremely well now, this wine will benefit from further careful cellaring. Best before 2078.

COST $75



Starboard Port Aged Tawny

Rich smooth traditional style of tawny.

TASTING On the palate, it is rich, softly sweet and smooth, perfectly balanced, with a long and elegant finish. FOOD MATCH Pairs extremely well with nuts, dried fruits and fruitcake but also with vanilla ice cream or crème brûlée. CELLARING Store in a cool dry place and is ready to drink as is.

COST $18 ea or 2 for $30


C. SAVANNAH ESTATE NV Limited Release Muscat

This Limited Release Muscat, is produced in the Solera style and blended with a brandy spirit. It is bottled in imported Italian Vin du Vie glass - the perfect centrepiece on your shelf. TASTING “Christmas Pudding in a glass” Lifted hints of orange blossom, caramelised fig and honey on the nose and balanced flavours of rum, raisin and golden syrup on the palate. FOOD MATCH Over vanilla bean ice cream, sticky date pudding, on your pancakes in the morning and with a hard cheddar.

CELLARING Up to 12 months once open.

COST $55



Heritage Vines 1978 Tawny

Outstanding aged tawny, made from Shiraz and Cabernet grapes harvested in February 1978. Matured in large oak casks in Drayton's Solera System, which houses wines more than 50 years old. A rare find, from limited and constantly diminishing stock. TASTING Delightful aromas of toffee and a hint of orange zest. Rich, lush flavours of creamy caramel and dried fruit. Crisp finish, with long-lasting nutty characters.

FOOD MATCH Match made in heaven for a creamy blue cheese or a sharp crumbly aged cheddar. CELLARING With careful long-term cellaring, this wine will remain vibrant and flavoursome for many decades to come. Best before 2153.

COST $250


E. ADINA VINEYARD Parte Angelica Muscat NV

Parte Angelica is the Angel’s share or the part that evaporates into the sky. According to some it is the best part! It reflects the Italian heritage of Adina Vineyard. TASTING It is a delightful and luscious wine, rich in raisin aromas and toffee flavours. FOOD MATCH An ideal match with soups, meats and most of all to round off a meal. Try it with chocolate, cheeses or to pour over desserts and ice cream.

CELLARING Drink it now – it is too good to wait!

COST $40



An Australian Classic, muscat has a heritage as old as wine in Australia. From the warmer climate vines of Southern Australia to the dark barrels of the Hunter Valley cellar. Rich and complex as we have come to expect. TASTING A dark amber colour, this wine has intense raisined muscat fruit characters with considerable complexity. It displays rich, luscious muscat fruit flavours typical of this classic fortified dessert style.

FOOD MATCH Strong cheeses, sorbets, or coffee infused ice creams.

CELLARING As long as self control will allow.

COST $40


G. GARTELMANN WINES 2021 Gartelmann Gracie’s Ambrosia A vibrant dessert wine based on the German Eiswein style, made from equal parts Semillon and Verdelho. This is a wine rich and sweet with aromas of apricot, passionfruit and orange zest. TASTING The nose displays candied citrus peel and honey whilst the palate is a balancing act of substantial sweetness and citrusy acid, leaving a fresh, clean and long finish. FOOD MATCH A great match with crème brûlée, panna cotta or any soft ripe cheeses. CELLARING 5 to 7 years.

COST $25