Dessert Wines for the Holidays

End your meal on a sweet note


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2007 Fortress Vineyards Finale Red Hills Lake County Semillon 12.5%

Semillon, along with Sauvignon Blanc, forms the backbone of the greatest dessert wines of them all: the Sauternes and Barsacs of Bordeaux. In this example you’ll find the typical richness that Semillon contributes to those blended wines.

This is full of fresh nutmeats on the nose, raw almonds and cashews with lightly confiture tones of bitter orange, dried pear and apricot and a heavy pollen top note. This is rich and mouth-filling, if a bit flat. It spreads over the palate with attractive peach nectar, candied chestnut and an almost malty tone. It’s intense and rich, gaining a creamy vanilla custard tone on the backend that leads to a fairly long finish, which reveals nice nutty nuances that complement the rich fruit. If there was a bit more acid here I would be more enthusiastic, but this still is quite delicious. 89pts

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  • Snooth User: ssigaud
    299760 23

    Gregory - great article yet I was surprised not to see Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise mentioned. I know I am biased... but I think it belongs! What say you?

    Dec 22, 2010 at 12:19 PM

  • I was surprised not to see Electra or Red Electra by Quady Winery on the list as it is a delicately fruity and seductively sweet dessert wine. Although my favorite didn't make the cut, I think your suggestions are well worth a try. Thanks for posting!

    Dec 22, 2010 at 1:41 PM

  • Snooth User: cbevacqua
    329799 1

    Gregory, where are the Chilean dessert wines? :) Will try your suggestions. Happy holidays.

    Dec 22, 2010 at 3:32 PM

  • Snooth User: fbvintage
    35159 180

    I don't like this article. Do you have some problem with port wine ? Port wine is the best, you can say there other options, but don't put any port wine in yours examples, is note very elegant.

    Dec 22, 2010 at 3:37 PM

  • Snooth User: mikejapan
    545426 14

    What about the wine of kings; Tokaji?

    Dec 22, 2010 at 4:59 PM

  • Where are the Ice Wines?

    Dec 22, 2010 at 5:43 PM

  • Snooth User: spossum
    520172 3

    Since it seems like most people are surprised that their favorite dessert wines didn't make the list, I'll jump on the bandwagon (knowing full well that a comprehensive list would be quite ponderous): Moscato d'Asti - one of the fastest growing categories in the US.

    Dec 22, 2010 at 5:54 PM

  • Wish you Merry x-mas Gregory and to all how works wis you in Snooth, Nelli

    Dec 22, 2010 at 5:58 PM

  • Great article. Just wondering if you're had a chance to try the Yalumba range of botrytised viogniers?

    Had the Yalumba hand-picked Botrytis Viognier 2007 recently and it was delicious and very aromatic.

    Best wishes for Xmas and Happy New Year. Merrill

    Dec 22, 2010 at 6:40 PM

  • Snooth User: Rollonose
    183775 4

    I would reccomend Inniskillin Vidal Icewine. I am biased as I manage the winery, however it is known as one of the best dessert wines in over 70 countries.

    Dec 22, 2010 at 8:02 PM

  • another great choice would be gratta's dry creek zinfandel dessert wine...a real san francisco treat made locally!

    Dec 22, 2010 at 8:32 PM

  • Snooth User: tonymoir
    415427 41

    Always difficult when you limit your selection to seven wines - Sauternes, no Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, no port, no liqueur muscat....!

    Dec 23, 2010 at 5:45 AM

  • Snooth User: pazdar
    Hand of Snooth
    95917 5

    Those are classics but you missed some of the great new dessert wines such as Chocolata Amor from the Pazdar Winery.

    Dec 23, 2010 at 8:47 AM

  • Snooth User: stormesixx
    293113 20

    What, no eiswein? You can't leave off cabernet franc icewine. It's da bomb!

    Dec 23, 2010 at 9:54 AM

  • Snooth User: MikeWaters
    684400 16

    I agree that the absence of Beaumes de Venise is strange. One of the world's greatest dessert wines, and not priced to break the bank. Also, Monbazillac is a good one.

    Dec 23, 2010 at 1:10 PM

  • I know there is a strong bias against fruit-based wines, but if you get a chance, try blueberry or raspberry. blueberry tastes like a sweet merlot and raspberry is like cassis.

    Dec 23, 2010 at 1:58 PM

  • What--no Madeira; great substitute for port with rich chocolate desserts, Pecan tarts, etc.--Best yet, you do not have to finish the bottle; it will last for months after opened

    Bruce Smith, Wine Educatorl

    Dec 24, 2010 at 10:44 AM

  • Snooth User: escabar
    219686 12

    A wine that you can actually keep for awhile after opening? I am intrigued!

    Dec 28, 2010 at 10:51 AM

  • Snooth User: ocozzie
    127922 5

    The best dessert wine we have had recently is the Pellegrino 2008 Passito de Pantelleria. Refreshing, not too sweet. Highly recommended!

    Dec 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM

  • Snooth User: gloriaz
    309864 50

    I'm surprised no mention of ice wines from niagara/st. cathrine's (canada). I enjoy vidal (niagara peninsula), kittling ridge(grimsby, ontario) among others anytime of the year....

    Jan 13, 2011 at 3:51 PM

  • Snooth User: April Wine
    1386118 30

    to answer a few questions from fellow posters above:

    There's a 2012 Gewurztraminer Icewine from an Ontario boutique estate winery in Niagara operated by 6th & 7th generation vintners (King's Court Estate Winery)

    Oct 23, 2013 at 7:48 PM

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