Sweet Sticky Things…Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World Tasting

In the world of dessert wines (a.k.a. “stickies”) Ports from Portugal, and Sauternes from Bordeaux rule. When I saw that my favorite wine shop, K&L Wine Merchants, was doing a tasting called “Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World“, I was eager to see what other regions of the world have to offer. Not only was the wine geek in me curious, it’s also been my experience that lesser known wine regions often offer outstanding Quality-Price Ratio (“QPR”) wines.

The tasting was not only geographically diverse (Austria, Hungary, Canada, Greece, and lesser known regions of France – Loire, Languedoc, and Alsace), it also offered a variety of both late harvest, and fortified stickies made from both white and red grapes. There was also a variety of treats to pair with the wines including various cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, and chocolates from The Chocolate Garage.

Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World - The Lineup

My tasting notes follow:

2009 Weiss Grüner Veltliner Fahrenheit 19 Ice Wine - Austria, Burgenland

Light yellow with gold tinged color with pear, brown sugar, and faint floral aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with very good acidity, and nectarine, spice flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts).

2008 Union of Winemaking Cooperatives of Samos Muscat Samos Vin Doux, Vin de liqueur - Greece, Aegean, Samos

This is a fortified vin doux Muscat.  Yellow gold color with peach liqueur, apricot, and spice aromas. On the palate medium light bodied with honeyed citrus, spiced apricot jam flavors. Medium-long finish. (88 pts).

2008 Château Pierre-Bise Coteaux du Layon-Beaulieu Les Rouannieres - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux du Layon-Beaulieu

Minimally  botrytised Chenin Blanc.  Light yellow gold color with muted candied apple,and almond aromas. On the palate medium bodied with tropical, apple, and pear flavors with a hint of nutty savoriness. Long finish (90 pts).

2007 Beck-Hartweg Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles - France, Alsace, Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace AOC

Sélection de Grains Nobles (“SGN”) are  botrytised wines from Alsace, France.  Light yellow color with nutty, peach, mineral aromas. On the palate medium bodied, well balanced with very good acidity and peach, spice, and slight mineral flavors. Long finish. (91 pts).

2006 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji 5 Puttonyos - Hungary, Hegyalja, Tokaji

Botrytised Furmint Blend.  Golden honey color with aromas of apricot, honey, alcohol. On the palate viscous, with apricot, honey and faint mineral notes. Long finish. (91 pts).

2001 Tokaj Hétszőlő Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos - Hungary, Hegyalja, Tokaji

Botrytised Furmint Blend.  Golden yellow color with vivid aromas of apricot and orange peel. On the palate viscous, balanced with harmonious streak of acidity, and intense apricot and orange flavors with a hint of minerality. Long finish. (94 pts).

2008 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Icewine - Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Short Hills Bench VQA

Pretty rosy dark pink color with sweet red fruit aromas. Palate follows with vibrant cherry and raspberry flavors; medium bodied with light tannins and medium-long finish (89 pts).

2007 Domaine Mas de Lavail Maury Expression - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Maury

This is a Vins doux naturels fortified wine from the south of France made from Grenache grapes ; very dark garnet almost inky color with aromas of cherry liquer, sweet tobacco,spice and floral notes. On the palate red fruit, and spice with good acidity and a touch of fine grained tannins. Medium long finish.  (89 pts).

After taking care of business tasting this group of outstanding dessert wines, it was time to enjoy a few different food pairings.  Hands down my favorite pairing was the Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and Pralus Madagascar 75% Dark Chocolate. It was simply a sublime pairing!  I also enjoyed the classic Roquefort cheese and Tokaji pairing, though I must confess I’ve never had cheese for my dessert course.

I always look forward to furthering my wine education, and this was a very good opportunity.  I tasted Tokaji for the first time, which I’ve been eager to do, and I now have a better understanding of which types of dessert wines to pair with which types of desserts,  and which might be better on a stand-alone basis for dessert.  All in all, a sweet start to the weekend!

Muscadet in Tomales Bay

(Click on the images below to enlarge)

It’s always fun for me to try new wines, especially after hearing about this, or that wine pairing well with food I enjoy!

Such was the case with Muscadet (pronounced mew-skuh-Day), a French wine made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The wine originates from the Loire Valley in France, more specifically the Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine appellation, which is on the western most part of the Loire bordering the Atlantic.  Curiously, Muscadet is the name of the wine, rather the name of a place, which is typical in France.

I’ve read that Muscadet was excellent with shellfish, and specifically with oysters, which I love, so I picked up a bottle of 2009 Michel Delhommeau Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Cuvee Harmonie (89 pts – $13), but the wine has been sitting in my refrigerator since August 2010!, awaiting the right opportunity.  The opportunity arose recently when we took a road trip to Tomales Bay near Point Reyes for a picnic.  We went to Tomales Bay Oyster Company.  It was a gorgeous day, and we quickly found a prime spot near the edge of the Bay, and bought oysters, mussels, and clams.  Additionally, we brought along marinated baby-back ribs and corn on the cob to grill, and potato salad.  In addition to the Muscadet, we brought along a sparkling wine; NV Mumm Prestige Cuvee Sparkling Wine, and a Rosé; 2009 Silver Mountain Rose of Pinot Noir.

We ended up buying 100 oysters for seven of us!  The vast majority of the oysters were consumed raw.  The mussels, and claims were grilled.  As advertised, the Muscadet paired with mollusks exceptionally well, with the citrusy and minerally flavors of the wine, playing off the brininess of the mollusks, brightening and enlivening their flavors (especially the raw oysters), and vice-versa.   It didn’t seem to matter much whether the raw oysters were consumed naked, or dressed with the typical Tabasco/lemon juice or the mignonette sauce of rice vinegar, cilantro, Vidalia onions my wife prepared.  I also tried the oysters with the Mumm sparkler, because oysters and sparkling wine is also a good pairing.   I enjoyed that pairing as well, though not quite as much.  As for the Rosé, that also worked with the oysters and was the wine of choice with the BBQ ribs, and potato salad.

It was a fun day with family, friends,  wine, and food that brought to mind one of my favorite quotations…

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”— Michael Broadbent

And trying a new wine that I really enjoyed was part of a memorable afternoon.  I will be buying more Muscadet to keep on hand for our next oyster orgy!  If you’re a fan of mollusks, and seafood, it’s a nice change of pace from Sauvignon Blanc.  Give it try!

What’s your favorite wine to pair with raw oysters? Leave a comment and let me know….