Seems that along with desserts, many of us abandon dessert wines as we repent for the excess of December! If that is going to be the case come January, you might as well splurge on a bottle or two of dessert wine to imbibe excessively now! I mean, if you’re only going to drink this stuff once or twice a year, treat yourself to the best. You’re worth it, after all.
And by worth it, I mean your worth the $20 to $30 it takes to get yourself some phenomenal sweeties. I have to say, I was very impressed by both the quality and value of my top three choices here, coming respectively from California, Australia and Italy.
These are simply exceptional wines that are priced within the reach of everyone this holiday season, so buy yourself a little gift. You don’t even have to share it with anyone. Just sit back and enjoy the kaleidoscope of flavors and aromas these wines bring to the table. Of course, sharing it may pay bountiful dividends, but if you want to live in the moment, lock the door, sit back and enjoy!
Photo courtesy Jing a Ling via Flickr/CC
2009 Bouchaine Bouche d’Or Chardonnay Napa Valley Carneros, CA 11% $36/500ml
This is intense and focused on the nose. Notes of almond, butcher’s wax, honey and brewer's yeast, and botrytis accent the core of dried mango and bitter melon fruit. Wow, this is like cashmere in the mouth. It’s sweet and rich yet elegant, with integrated acidity and lovely vanilla-toned golden fruit notes on the palate. There’s a touch of mango followed by rich, honied peach notes, topped with a suggestion of baking spices that drives the long, sweet/tart finish. This is very sweet but has great intensity of flavor. 94pts
2008 d’Arenberg The Noble Mud Pie $20/375ml
This is noticeably volatile on the nose, but the aromas of dried apricot, dried coconut, lemongrass and mace are quite attractive and complex. Super sweet on entry, this has very good focus in the mouth and layers on creamed corn and intense botrytis flavors over the core of peach, red currant and mango fruit. This is very sweet and perhaps just a touch soft, but it’s got great flavor intensity and good complexity, gaining spice and burnt sugar notes on the long finish. May be a touch simple as well, but what this does, this does exceptionally well. 93pts
NV Lungarotti Dulcis 16% $23/ 375ml
Gorgeous nose, intense and aromatic delivering layers of dried floral tones, marzipan, orange marmalade, super ripe peach, ginseng and fennel seed aromas. Moderately sweet on entry, this is a bit strict in the mouth with flavors that are more honied than the aromatics and have a certain medicinal edge to them. There’s a lovely graham cracker base to this in the mouth, with spiced honey tones covering dried peach fruit that leads to a fruitcake, butterscotch and fig toned finish. Ends with a note of bitter almond. The aromatics here are phenomenal, which sets a slightly too-high bar for the palate. 93pts
2009 Donnafugata Ben Rye 14.5% $40/375ml
Woodsy smelling with notes of sandalwood, mushrooms, dried herbs, some very balsamic florals, toasted nuts and lime oil, over apricot and bitter orange fruit. This is sweet but very well balanced, with acidity that enlivens the texture and flavor but lies just below the fruit. A bit spicy on the palate, this delivers rich, pure flavors of caramel-laced, pithy citrus fruits topped with some spicy ginger notes and a little almond. The finish shows dried lime notes and a nice honied length, finishing with a flourish of spice. 92pts
2004 Domaine Sigalas Vinsanto Santorini Greece $50/500ml
Lovely notes of dried figs greet the nose followed by passion fruit and grapefruit notes, all underlain with a strong floral undercurrent. Quite sweet, but with bright acidity, this remains lively on the palate. A lovely mix of kumquat and bitter orange marmalade notes accented with hints of dried mushroom and molasses on the moderately long finish. Definitely fruit-driven on the palate, though this could use a little more length. 92pts