Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taking Some Mystery Out Of Dessert Wines:Part 2

Here's the second post in my dessert-wine blog featurette. In the first post, I explained what my friends and I were tasting as well as went over the dessert wines themselves. Here, you'll find the tasting notes and suggested food pairings. I've included the suggested retail price as well as bottle size so you can make your own comparisons. Let's get to the wines!

The dessert wine lineup, sans Sauterenes

It's a rough life being a wine blogger

While you are gazing at those two pictures, I'm feverishly trying to arrange this next blog entry the right way. In the previous page, I had listed the dessert wines that Keith, Bill, and myself tasted on April 23rd. Now I get to talk about them as well as suggest pairings should you decide to seek them out.

1. 2009 Kracher Cuvee Auslese - Alluring nose featuring river stone, nectarine, and stone fruit. Everything was so light but also complex, I kept smelling the glass just to get more aromas. When tasted, I found a light, sweetly acidic wine with orange pith, nectarine, dried apricot all bound by a pleasing acidity that kept each fruit flavor restrained. This contributed to the balanced, palate friendly nature of the wine. An absolute gem of a dessert wine that paired extremely well with the panna cotta, as well as sugar cookies. A-. $13-$18. 375 ml.

2. 2009 Kracher Cuvee Eiswein - This is a dollop of sweet peach juice and fresh cream! Beautiful aromas of fresh apricot and a touch of tropical fruit, a nice touch of minerality giving context to the fruits. Utterly divine on the palate, with fleshy peach backing a burst of mango and more of those delicious apricots. The mouthfeel was so ripe and rich that it felt almost creamy. We all loved this wine with the fruit tarte and also the wonderful Brazilian Mousse de Maracuja. A-. $32-38. 375 ml.

3. 2009 Kracher Beerenauslese Zweigelt - Shimmered like a glass full of rubies in the sunlight, I was enthralled by the color. Aromatically complex with notes of candied flower petals, wild strawberries and some wet rock thrown in. Surprisingly light with the nearly perfect backing of acidity against some awesome flavors like cherry and candied plums. There was even something like baking spices on the finish, which certainly kept me guessing. Simply stunning for me. I think this paired amazingly well with the chocolates from Honest Chocolates, as well as the tarte Bill brought.  B+ . $24. 375 ml.

4. 2008 Bodegas Ochoca Moscatel - Made from small berry muscat vines, this was my first time tasting a dessert wine from Navarra, Spain. The bouquet was explosive, like a sweet tropical fruit salad drizzled in white grape juice. A touch of acidity balanced the notes of passion fruit, pineapple, and mango. At first, it was somewhat difficult to wrap my head around what I smelled. The Ochoca moscatel was that good! I tasted golden apples, peaches, tropical fruit and more of the white grape juice all seamlessly blending together. My favorite wine of the night. Another stellar pairing with the chocolates and also the fruit tarte. A (95 points). $20. STRONG BUY. 375 ml.

5. 2003 Sigalas Vinsanto Santorini VQPRD -  The first vinsanto I had tasted in a while, blew my socks off. Insane smells of caramelized sugar and dried figs, even a hint of toasted nuts. At once interesting and alluring, I could put away a bottle of this myself, with no problem. The sweet nutty flavor carried through the palate, mixing with figs and a hint of burnt sugar. Pleasing acidity was there throughout, so the Sigalas vinsanto avoided getting into the saccharine-sweet territory that had me worried when I conceived the tasting earlier this year. Excellent, spicy finish and I was content to sip it on it's own, not needing any desserts. A-. $50. 500 ml.

6. 2009 Seven of Hearts Coupe's Cuvee - Sent down to me after the other dessert wines had arrived, this was the first time I had ever tried pinot noir made into a dessert wine. The aromatics were fascinating, with an earthy, almost barnyard aroma (in a good way!), notes of sweet cherry and even what I thought was a touch of menthol on the back end. When I tasted the Coupe's Cuvee I found a great flavor of cedar and red cherry along with great spices and a tangy acidity. The complexity surprised me, in the best of ways. Along with the complex flavors and aromas was the awesome color, I thought it looked like an electrified ruby sitting my glass. Paired with the Honest Chocolates, it shined. The flavors all melded together to create a sensational taste. B+ $21. BUY. 375ml.

7. 2003 Chateau Rieussec Sauterenes - 2003 was apparently a good year for Sauterenes, and the Chateau Rieussec is aging beautifully. Smells like botrytis laden grapes, hints of pine with a bit of acidic astringency. I tasted sweet cream, apricots, beautiful hints of caramel and hard candy almost like a Werthers. The way it effortlessly glides around in your mouth reminds you why Sauterenes are so highly prized. I loved the pairing with the panna cotta and on its own, needing no accompaniment save for a beautiful sunset. B+. $39. 375ml.

We got into Bill's tarte, hard.

Wrapping up a post like this is not easy for me, because I don't know if words can express my gratitude to those who participated. This was the first time I reached out en masse (so to speak) to try to put together a series of blog posts framed around one type of wine. In my opinion it worked out perfectly and I'd like to thank Catharine Seda, Constance Chamberlain, Byron and Dana Dooley, Keith, and Bill. They readily agreed to ship me samples of wine, bring tasty desserts, and reminded me to get my butt in gear with these posts. A thousand thank-you's, I am deeply appreciative of the support. Until next time!

Panna Cotta, so good!!

This tasting was a mix of wines sent as media samples and donations from a private cellar.

Beau Carufel


  1. Looked like a great night of good food and excellent wine. I have never been much for dessert wines mainly because I knew little about them. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for reading, Dan. I used to dislike dessert wines, mainly because I felt their sweetness to be overpowering. Over the past few years I had the chance to try some great dessert wines and that's helped change my opinion, this blog post is the result!

  3. Great write up for a great line up! That's great that Seven of Hearts sent you a sample. I need to go visit them again soon. I've never heard of a Zweigelt dessert wine before either, but I'm now intrigued! I really dig that '03 Rieussec. For a few years, a lot of people were hating on it for not having enough acidity. To be fair, I didn't think it was as good as some others. However, over the past year or so, I've had a couple of bottles, and I think they're just singing. The vintage seems to be condemned to live in the shadow of 2001 Sauternes as well. The good news is that there will probably be plenty of that Rieussec out there at reasonable prices!

  4. I'm afraid if I go visit, I'll buy a bunch of their wines. But yes I do want to visit again, the wines were quite good last year.

    That Zweigelt was something I saw and asked Constance about, she sent it merrily along and it was so fun! I want to buy a bottle and pair it with some regular foods to see how that would work.

    Good info about the '03, I've had the '01 and it was quite good but also gave that feeling it would develop over another few decades..However, I can't wait that long!