Jul 232012
 
The Freeze Miser

Source: Rankin/Bass Productions Inc. “The Year Without a Santa Claus”

It has hardly heated up this summer, and already the daydreams have started: there I am, sitting by the fire sipping luxuriously rich wines. What’s with this cold weather we are having lately? I think Freeze Miser has finally tackled his miserable brother, Heat Miser.

Even if the summer heat were at normal levels, however, Napa Valley gets nippy every evening and every evening is therefore cause celebre for whispers of sweet nothings in our glasses. Only I prefer sweet everythings: Port style wines, Muscat wines, late harvest Zinfandels. You name it, it goes down the hatch to stave off pesky goosebumps.

Sweet wines are historic in California, if only because that is what we produced forever. Well, long before dry wine pushed the sweet ones off the hill anyway. In the 1960s in particular, California became known for its sweet wines. The most popular were fortified wines, made in the style of Portugal’s Port. It took a winemaking renaissance later in the 60s to elevate dry wines in California, and this same renaissance brought about a pretty nice side effect: serious, high-quality sweet wines.

Sweet wines are no picnic to make. You have to really love them to go through the pain of making them. With late harvest wines, there is stress over weather and rot issues. For botrytized wines (a good mold sucks the grape practically dry so the only thing left is sweet, syrup-like elixir). For this mold to happen in Napa Valley, you pretty much have to do special rain dances wearing a bunny suit and waving around a scepter; it don’t come easy. With Port-style wines, you have to go all grape-spirity and the husband or wife may not appreciate a distillation pot or tank in the kitchen.

However, once sweet wines are made, there they all, ready to whisper sweet everythings in to your glass.

Here are some fun sweet wines being made in Napa Valley:

  • Alpha Omega 2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
  • V Sattui Winery  2009 Late Harvest White Riesling
  • Heitz Wine  Non-vintage Cellars Ink Grade Port
  • Honig Vineyard  2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
  • Truchard Vineyards 2007 Roussane Carneros
  • Bennett Lane Winery  Non-vintage  After Feasting Wine (Port-style)

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