A few years ago a producer of sweet, botrytis-affected semillon challenged a famous chef to come up with the perfect dessert match. I can't remember now exactly what the dish was, but I remember very clearly how spectacularly well it went with the wine. And I can recall the main ingredients it contained: stone fruit (nectarines, peaches) to match the ripeness of the semillon grapes that were picked very late in the season; lots of honey and sugar to match the intense sweetness of those grapes that had been shrivelled and dried out by the noble rot, botrytis cinerea; plus some caramelisation and some cream to match the toasty characters and vanilla softness of the oak barrels the wine had been matured in. This dish involves all the same elements, from stone fruit to dairy (buttermilk's a nice twist, because it has a sourness that matches the wine's acidity), plus the syrupy richness in the ripple in the ice-cream. Served too cold, ice-cream can numb the tastebuds and make wine taste flavourless, so let the ice-cream soften a little before serving, and choose a wine with enough weight and sweetness to handle the cold.
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