Got dessert wine? I've just returned from Europe where they are so much more common, and am trying to get into thinking about them as part of a meal once a week.
Surprisingly, there are quite of few of them out there from the organic vintners. Here are some of my favorites:
1. For the Lover Who Likes Pretty Labels with Grapes
*Frey Vineyards - Late Harvest Zinfandel ($24)
I don't write that much about Frey Vineyards' wine as they are no added sulfite, a category that is not of very much interest to me as the wines can be unstable. On the other hand, when it comes to dessert wines (where stability is not such an issue), Frey Vineyards has a lovely Late Harvest Zinfandel that is a sweet dessert wine.
It's grown in beautiful Redwood Valley (Mendocino County).
It comes in an elegant bottle and I think any Valentine would be happy to receive this along with some chocolate.
2. For the Lover Who Likes Strange Bottle Art
Bonny Doon - Vinferno ($20/$216)
Zinferno is a white dessert wine from Bonny Doon's biodynamic vineyards in Arroyo Seco. Made from grenache blanc and roussanne (two white Rhone varietals) it's certified biodynamic.
3. For the Lover Who Has Everything or For the Wine Geek
Wilridge Winery Estate Vintage Dessert Red ($20/$216)
For something really different, varietal wise, turn to Northwest producer Wilridge for a port made from Portuguese varietals Zweigeist, Tourega Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao and Souzao.
4. Ceago Soul of Syrah Port ($28)
This is a combination of Syrah, Colombard, and Viognier from a biodynamic vintner in Lake County who is one of the Fetzer clan.
Ceago sits on the shores of Clear Lake. It's a beautiful destination winery with a gorgeous tasting area, beautiful estate, and stunning lakeside views - well worth a visit.
They used to also have a Late Harvest Semillon dessert wine but I couldn't find it any more.
5. Yorkville Cellars Sweet Malbec ($22)
This was invented in Mendocino by this iconoclastic, wonderful winery where they grow all seven of the noble varieties of Bordeaux, including Malbec, and sell them as Bordeaux blends but also as single varietals, so you can get to know each one.
This is a semi sweet effervescent rose and should be served chilled. (Personally I think it's sweet.) Previous vintages won Double Gold at the Mendocino Wine Competition.
6. Bonterra Muscat ($14)
Mendo organic powerhouse Bonterra makes a pretty sweet Muscat which can serve as an aperitif or with dessert. It's not a dessert wine per se, so it's not in the "contemplation wine" category, but it is a sweet way to end a meal.
*7. McFadden Vineyard is coming out with a new dessert wine this year - a late harvest Riesling which did very well at the SF Chronicle Competition, getting Best in Class last month. I'll post more about it when I receive a bottle (coming soon). If you want to go ahead and order it yourself, get in touch with McFadden Vineyards where John Cesano will get you all connected.
* = Pam's picks