Save Room for Dessert Wine: Holiday Flight of Fancy, Part 3
2017 Errazuriz Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, DO Valle de Casablanca, Chile
When was the last time you enjoyed a dessert wine? I am regularly guilty of skipping over that final section of the wine list after a long meal as I all but rush to the taxi home. But, there’s something about the holiday season that invites us to linger over the final courses; maybe incorporate a selection of cheeses, or to splurge on a bit of foie gras as an appetizer.
Dessert wines come in many styles from many regions of the world. Perhaps the most famous (and most precious) is Chateau d’Yquem, a Sauternes from Bordeaux. In Australia, dessert wines are fondly known as stickies, and there are a few good ones that hail from that part of the world. No matter where they come from, most are in the category of “late harvest”. This simply means the fruit was left on the vine past typical harvest time in order to concentrate the sugars, and even reduce the water content. This often occurs through either raisining or frost. Some, such as Sauternes (and this wine) also experience a type of desirable mold known as botrytis or “noble rot”.
Viña Errazuriz was founded in 1870 in Chile. The fruit for this wine comes from their La Escultura Estate in the Casablanca Valley where both warm sun and cool sea breezes contribute to the balance of ripeness and acidity these grapes enjoy. For this wine, the grapes are left to hang until their sugars, acidity, and lush flavors are concentrated. Also, until they have developed the, often rare, noble rot of the botrytis mold. Only then are the berries hand picked, often one at a time.
About this Wine
Delicate golden light with flecks of silver lining – what better way to celebrate the holidays? Aromas of ripe apricot, pear, and a hint of peppery spice open to include white flowers and honey as the dessert wine opens in the glass. The spritely burst of tart, juicy apricot and stone fruit gush over a pleasantly bitter backdrop of candied grapefruit rind and green tea. The mouthfeel is pure silk. Though sweet, this wine is far from sticky. The sweetness is actually one of the less notable characteristics as it is eclipsed by the juiciness and clean citrus zest finish.
Of course, pairing with delicate cream or fruit desserts makes perfect sense. However, I crave this wine with a variety of well-selected cheeses. The play of sweet and savory, creamy and mouthwatering, make this a perfect pairing in my book. It is an equally lovely companion for torch of foie gras or sweet crab or lobster.
I am a long-time fan of dessert wines. I’m also a fan of lingering over the last morsels both sweet and savory, with great company and great wines. At 12% ABV, plenty of zing, and not a hint of stickiness, this is a refreshing way to end a celebratory meal. Even better, it is under $25 for a 375 ml bottle and a little goes a long way, so you can steer more of you budget to the yummy cheeses!
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