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Kellie Duckhorn
 
February 10, 2015 | Kellie Duckhorn

Sweets with Sweet Wine

 

What in the world do these three images have in common? Chateau Yquem! The revered late harvest wine from the Sauternes region of France was coveted by Thomas Jefferson and Tsar Nicholas II...Jefferson felt that this sweet wine was perfectly suited to the American palate and he purchased 250 bottles for both himself and George Washington. In 2001, Sotheby's auctioned off five bottles of the 1865 vintage found in Tsar Nicholas' cellar for the amazing price of £6,200 per bottle! 

Sweet wine, or late harvest wine is the unpredictable result of the perfect conditions created by botrytis noble rot. Noble rot is a moisture loving mold that effectively and slowly dehydrates the wine grape. The most common varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle. The finished wine is a deep golden color with a thick viscosity and a fantastic complexity of both aromas and flavors. It is a wine to be consumed in small doses and as such is typically available in a 375ml bottle.

I have to admit, I am really more of a savory person...I like salt, cheese and herb or spice infused sauces. One of my greatest challenges, while dining out, is how to end a fantastic meal. While my table mate has just ordered a Molten Chocolate Lava Cake from Market Restaurant or my sons have decided to replenish ski calories burned with the Hula Pie from Jake's on the Lake, I am left pondering my finale. Sweet desserts do tempt me, but I am always more satisfied with a cheese plate, such as the one offered at Angèle. Therein lies the balancing act: can I have sweet but not too much sweet? The answer is yes!

 

Apple Tart Tatin Mixed Cheese Platter Lemon Poached Pears

 

My favorite place to start is with the afore mentioned Late Harvest or Dessert Wine menu. Some of my favorites include Dolce, Navarro Vineyards or Duckhorn Vineyards. Each of these wines are best enjoyed with a fruit driven dessert...something like an Apple Tart Tatin or Lemon Poached Pears. The key to the balancing act is to match the sweetness...as a general rule, make sure that the wine is sweeter than the dessert. Otherwise, the wine will taste overly acidic or tart and leave your palate confused...and possibly a bit disappointed as you were expecting that mouth watering satisfaction of sweet bliss!

Here at Baldacci Family Vineyards, we don't make a late harvest wine but we do offer two fantastic versions of Cabernet Sauvignon that also can be well paired to end a meal. For those who favor savory, I'd take the cheese route with a mild, creamy blue placed on top of a toasted walnut half. This will pair well with our IV Sons blend. For the sweetly inclined, go down the cocoa path...in general, the higher percentage of cacao indicates less sugar, more intensity and a richer chocolate flavor. The bitterness in the dark chocolate will allow the fruit in the wine to leap forward and tease your palate with the perception of sweetness. Our Black Label 100% Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a +60% cacao content nib will show off the dark, ripe fruit element and satisfy your sweet tooth with a lot fewer calories than the pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream!

 

 

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