The Sweet Side of Lodi Wine
With winter in full force, it seems natural that one would gravitate toward more substantial, fuller-bodied, warming wines. If you add the allure (and abundance) of desserts surfacing on holiday tables, it’s a great time of year for dessert wines!
There are essentially two types of dessert wines, late harvest and fortified.
Late harvest is a term applied to wines that are made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual. Allowing the grapes to “hang” longer (to the point where the grapes may be similar to raisins) increases their sugar levels, making a sweeter wine. These wines tend to be lower in alcohol than fortified wines.
Fortified wines are wines to which a distilled beverage (usually grape brandy) has been added. Adding a distilled beverage does two things to the wine. First, when a distilled beverage is added to wine before fermentation is complete, the alcohol in the distilled beverage kills the yeast and leaves residual sugar behind which make the wine sweeter. Secondly, it increases the alcohol content of the wine (which is why dessert wines are typically served in small quantities) The most popular style of fortified wine is Port from Portugal, but similar wines (properly known as Vin Doux Naturel, but commonly referred to as “Port”) are crafted in Lodi.
Lodi has a diverse selection of both types of dessert wines, from lightly to richly sweet.
Late harvest style
Uvaggio Vermentino Passito – This wine, made from the Vermentino grapes made in the “Passito” style whereby the grapes have been dried to concentrate their juice. The result is wine with a full-bodied, bold, poached peach and toasted almond character and a long sweet finish. Pair with Panettone, or peach cobbler.
2015 Uvaggio Moscato Dolce – This wine is made from the rare Golden Muscat grape which shows effusive floral, apricot and honey aromas, followed by apricot and honey on the palate with a slight bit of fizziness. It’s low in alcohol and lightly sweet makes it a great aperitif; or pair with Panettone, or fruit tarts.
d'Art Port – A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Petite Sirah. It’s a fresh, fruit forward and approachable wine that’s not overly sweet. But it shows bold fruit flavors with hints of chocolate and oak. Pair with a cheeseboard or chocolate cake.
Harney Lane Lizzy James Dessert Wine – This wine is 100% Zinfandel from the epic 2012 vintage. It was aged 30 months in neutral oak barrels. It pours a gorgeous garnet color with an unctuous, concentrated black walnut, fig, and roasted almond character. It’s seductively sweet without being cloying. Pair with sticky toffee pudding, crème brûlée or bûche de Noël (French style chocolate yule log).
Peltier Station USB Dessert Wine - This red blend of predominately Syrah shows complex flavors with butterscotch and dried cherry aromas, supported by an orange peel splash on the mid-pallet, blended together to form the perfect balance and modestly sweet, long lasting finished. Pair with vanilla ice cream topped with bittersweet chocolate or flourless chocolate cake.
St. Amant Bootleg Port – A blend of six traditional Portuguese grape varieties. The wine pours a dark ruby red color, with crushed berry aromas, delicious ripe fruit flavors, and a smooth almost nutty finish. Pair with a sour cherry pie or chocolate truffles.
St. Amant Tawny Port #9 – This more complex wine a blend of three barrels from older vintages - 2001, 2006, and 2007. The wine pours a deep amber color with an aromatic nutty, buttered toffee, fig, smoky vanilla, and ripe cherry character. Pair with pumpkin or pecan pie pecan pie, almond cake or caramel covered cheesecake.
Pick up a bottle or two for the next time the weather is frightful, and you seek an adult beverage to warm the cockles of your heart!
You can purchase these wines at the winery’s website, or at The LoCA Wine Store.