There is not a lot of dessert wine made in this country, but much of what is produced is exceedingly good and typically delicately, rather than sickly, sweet. Some wine is made from “late harvest” grapes, which relies on warmth at the end of the summer – this last happened in the UK in 2011. Alternatively, botrytis or “noble rot” can affect the grapes before picking. Other dessert wines are created from early ripening aromatic varieties havested as usual, with the sweetening being part of the wine-making process.
Siegerrebe is a frequently used grape variety for dessert wine in the UK, a cross between Madeleine Angevine and Gewurtztraminer. Madeleine itself is also used, notably at Eglantine; others use blends of varieties such as Schönburger, Bacchus, Reichensteiner and Siegerrebe.
We did a quick survey of people who know what they are talking about in the world of English wine and asked them to recommend good dessert wines. Those with a cellar door open to the public are as shown below. Most of them are only produced in small quantities and often sell out completely before wine from the next vintage is released – we’d definitely recommend snapping them up if you see one.