by Manos Angelakis
I don’t understand why there are so few stories written about dessert wines. It seems that wine writers veer away from sweet wines, and consider the sweet wine aficionados as having “uneducated palates, that can not appreciate the complexity and beauty of dry wines”.
I beg to differ! I can appreciate the complexity and beauty of a dry wine as well as appreciating the lushness and beauty of a well-made dessert wine. My palate is as well educated as any other wine critic’s, considering that I have been drinking wine for over 55 years now; and I have tried the product of every major and many more minor wine makers.
A 100% Pedro Ximénez (PX) from Spain, or a Riesling Eiswein from the Mosel, are very delicious and seductive. They pair beautifully with very rich dishes – pan-seared foie gras and well-aged cheeses come immediately to mind. And, of course fruit, and desserts of any description. In fact, many times I will have a glass of sweet wine at the end of the meal, instead of dessert.
We recently called together the “gang of the usual suspects” to taste high quality dessert wines and the results were not surprising. A few in the tasting told me that their aversion to sweet wines was formed during their younger years when Blue Nun and Lancer’s Rosé were readily available to the members of “The Pepsi Generation”. Folks that normally drink only dry wines were absolutely seduced by the aromas and flavors of these samples.
The wines sampled were:
1998 S. A. Prüm, Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Eiswein. This elegant, low alcohol, high acidity charmer was considered the best in the tasting and was paired with the pan-seared foie gras. This highly aromatic wine’s color is golden, a visual indication of the treasure in the bottle. Some gave it a rating of 99. The average, when the tasting notes were tabulated was a high 97. And it was well deserved.
Second in high marks was the Pedro Domecq "Venerable" a very rare Pedro Ximenez Sherry. Almost syrupy, inky, with ripe black figs, and dry dates on the mouth, this fortified wine comes from a 30-year-old solera. The dessert paired with it was a yummy compressed tort of dried figs and hazelnuts covered by dark chocolate. The average rate was a high 95.
Third in preference was another German wine, this one a 2004 Rudolf Müller Riesling Eiswein from Rheinhessen. It appeared to be slightly less sweet than the Prüm sample, slightly lighter in color, with a fruity acidity that cut through the richness of the paired food and worked well with the ripe Bosc pears. Considering the suggested retail price, it is an excellent introduction to dessert wines. Average rate was 95.
2003 Privilegio dei Feudi di San Gregorio was a late harvest wine from Italy’s Irpinia region. It had higher alcohol (12% by volume) than the German wines, though it was just as aromatic. It came in a handsome frosted bottle, debossed with the maker’s coat of arms and a simple, small square, gold label. The grape is "Fiano d’ Avellino", one of the antique Italian varietals that the Latins called "vitis apiana", because the bees were attracted to the ripe grapes. The color is yellow gold with lighter gold highlights. Ripe stone fruits on the nose, dense and sweet, with a candied citrus aftertaste. Very enjoyable, and rated at 95.
Also from Italy, a golden wine from Trentino. Arèle, a golden colored wine from the CAVIT cooperative is made from the Nosiola grape, a native of the mountainous Trentino region of Northern Italy. Excellent wines from Alto Adige or Südtirol (depends whether your source is Italian or Austrian) are becoming more available to the US market in the last few years. The price is right for a very delicious wine, and our gang’s average rating was 93.
Another golden-hued wine, from Chile’s Curico valley this time, the 2006 Montes Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, was the last dessert wine in the tasting. Made from botrytised grapes left hanging on the vine till the end of harvest, this wine is the first bottling of a dessert wine from Montes. Slightly higher in alcohol that its predecessors in the tasting, a little less sweet, just as aromatic. Rated at 90, it is a very good product from one of the best Chilean wineries.
To your health!
© October 2007 The Oenophile Blog. All rights reserved.