Monday, December 13, 2010

Dessert Wines for Drinking and Gifting

I don't drink much dessert wine between January and November, but something happens to me at Thanksgiving and between then and New Year's Eve I find myself longing for a glass of sweet wine, a good book, and some holiday music.

Dessert wines typically come in smaller bottles (usually 375ml or 500 ml, rather than 750 ml), although there are exceptions. They are perfect for four to five people to share after dinner, and survive on the counter or in the fridge with a cork in the bottle for 3-5 days if you don't finish them up.

Though they are a bit more expensive than most of the wines reviewed on this blog, 'tis the season for gifting and indulging, so I decided to do a roundup of some of the more affordable bottles I've enjoyed recently in case you wanted to give a friend--or yourself--a bottle.

NV Martini & Rossi Asti Dolce ($6-8/375ml and $8-11/750ml) A sweet sparkling wine from Italy, this is frothy with ripe peach and honey aromas and flavors. Would be very nice with any desserts involving orchard fruits, and is a glass of this on its own is a dessert in itself! Very good QPR.

2009 Susana Balbo Torrontés Late Harvest (suggested retail $30/500ml; click here to find retailers in your area who might have it) A winning dessert wine from Argentina, with great acidity and spice along with honeyed citrus peel aromas and flavors. The wine becomes more flowery as it warms slightly and gets some air. This is a little like a Sauternes in its balance between sweetness and bright acidity. Very good QPR.

N.V. Rotta Black Monukka Dessert Wine (available for $26/375ml; also available directly from the winery) Exceptional in every way, this may well remind you of old and rare Palo Cortados or Olorosos from Spain. Fantastic caramelized orange peel and toffee aromas and flavors are rich and pure. This wine would be superb with pumpkin pie, caramel desserts, or with a selection of aged cheeses. Highly, highly recommended and a steal for the price. Excellent QPR.

2008 Susana Balbo Malbec Late Harvest (suggested retail $30/500ml;
earlier vintages available for $22-$30/500ml) This smells and tastes just like the holidays with cinnamon, clove, orange peel, and anise aromas and flavors. The wine has a silky texture, and is much lighter than a port. Bright red fruit, with cinnamon--yes, cinnamon--running from the midpalate through the finish. Very good QPR.

2005 Château Doisy-Védrines Sauternes (available for $23-$26/375ml or
$36-$60/750ml). A lush, affordable Sauternes with characteristic apple, honeycomb, orange peel, and a touch of pineapple. This wine is still very young, and will continue to improve with age but it is drinking just beautifully now. Excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of the Asti Dolce, Late Harvest Torrontes, Late Harvest Malbec, and Black Monukka wines for review. All other wines mentioned were purchased by me in the market.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Chateau Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes proves that you do not need to spend a ton of money to enjoy a high quality, classic bottle of Sauternes - our go to for dessert wine!