Sweet and Fortified
Sweet wines are wines that have either have been fortified with sugar, or have been produced in a manner whereby fermentation was cut short, leaving residual sugars in wines that produce a sweetness in different levels and styles. Sweet wines have graced the planet for centuries and come from a wide variety of farming methods and grape varietals. After harvest, sweet wines are produced in a wide variety of methods including allowing grapes to turn into raisins before taking them into the fermentation process in barrel. Other methods require allowing grapes to become inoculated or infected with noble rot, also known as Botrytis cinerea which gives sweet wines like Sauternes a truffled-effect. This very same bacteria would normally be devastating to a dry, red varietal wine such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon or merlot.
Riesling is grown all over the world, but predominately come from Alsace, Austria, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. Rieslings can be produced in either dry or sweet format. Riesling is typically higher in acid and lower in alcohol, allowing it to pair well with fresh fruit, softer cheeses, spicy Asian or Mexican foods.
Vouvray is produced in France's Loire Valley and is usually sweet, flavorful, full body, dry and sparkling. Golden in color, fruity and higher in residual sugars, sweeter vouvray wines include Demi-Sec (semi-dry), Moelleux (sweet, boytritisized) and Doux (Super sweet and boytritisized). Typically never oak aged, Vouvray wines are almost always tank fermented. Vouvray pairs extremely well with rich foods, wedding cake, soft creamy cheeses.
Chenin Blanc is a durable white grape with thick skin, allowing it to endure brutal weather conditions. This allows Chenin Blanc to grow in areas of the world that have vast range in weather conditions. You will find Chenin Blanc all over Europe, Asia, South America, United States and Canada. Typically high in acidity, the grapes are harvested late in the year, when the maximum amount of Botrytis cinerea has infected the grape. Discover green apple and mineral or a chalkiness on the nose that opens up to flavors of honey, almond or hazelnut, citrus and tropical fruits.
Sauternes is pure, liquid gold. Considered the gold standard of sweet wine, Sauternes wines are rich in history and come from left bank of Bordeaux. made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes which become more lucrative with greater exposure to Botrytis cinerea infection. Cold climate and mild humidity exposure is a frequent annual event, causing cold grapes to raisin and moisten resulting in higher acidity and chalkiness as well as flavors such as apricot and honeysuckle. Sauternes age very well and in their youth they exhibit a straw yellow and can turn dark brown. Sauternes is the most collectible sweet wine in the world. The most famous of Sauternes, Chateau d'Yquem can sell for ten thousand dollars or more for ancient bottles which can still be drinkable. Drink them alone or with decadent fruit and cheese trays, fig spread, tiramisu or creme brule.
Icewine or Eiswein is typically harvested in the coldest days of they year, Icewine varietals are harvested in the middle of the night, when the temperatures are brutally low. This allows the grapes to freeze and reduce its water content, causing grapes to shrivel, or sometimes even pinching out the water from the grapes. The harvest window is the most short and labor-some of all wines. Icewines are laser beam sharp and sweet. Varietals of Icewine can range from Riesling to Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Muscatine grapes. Icewine is more notable in Canada, Oregon, and Germany. Perfect with choclolate cake, creme brule or fruity pastries.
Tokaj/Tokaji can be traced back to the 1530's, from Hungary and Slovakia. Comprised of six grape varietals which includes Furmint, Hárslevelı, Yellow Muscat, Zéta (Oremus), KövérszŒlŒ and Kabar. The Tokaj process of making wine includes a harvest under conditions of Botrytis cinerea, followed by a raising of the grapes resulting in a extremely high sugar concentrations. Baskets of Aszu grapes are macerated and then blended with wine must for up to 48 hours, then placed in wooded barrels. Fermentation can take years. Puttonyos added to the casks and can range from 3 to 6 Puttonyos, with six being the most sweet and highest quality. Essencia, which is a residual nectar that be bottled. and is often very expensive due to its ability to age and cellar over a lifetime of 200+ years. Tokaji Essencia is best paired on its own or with fruit or cake.
Port wine is produced in the Duoro Valley in Portugal and is typically produced with any combination of five different varietals including Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tempranillo, Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional. Port is classified as either barrel aged or bottle aged. Ports are distinguished on the palate by its sweet nuttiness, jerky, pepper and currant. While there are several different kinds of Port, Vintage Port is the most lucrative and only accounts for 2% of total production. Declared vintages are not awarded frequently and as such signify a significant season and harvest quality amongst producers.