Tag Archives: Semillon

Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc

Standout Sauvignon Blanc from California

Made famous by France and today grown all over the world, Sauvignon Blanc is a favorite among white wine drinkers. But you don’t need to go international to find a world class Sauvignon Blanc – just look to California.

Here are the Amateur Gastronomer’s picks for standout Sauvignon Blanc from California.

If the warm weather isn’t reason enough to try these wines, pick up a bottle for International Sauvignon Blanc Day, on Friday May 16th. Share what you’re sipping with us @amgastronomer on Twitter and Instagram with #SauvBlanc.

Arkenstone NVD Sauvignon Blanc 2012

There’s a new Sauvignon Blanc from Arkenstone Vineyards. The Howell Mountain winery has expanded beyond its estate vines on the western shoulder to include grapes in the larger Napa Valley AVA.

Arkenstone NVD Sauvignon BlancWinemaker Sam Kaplan uses similar techniques with the Napa Valley District Sauvignon Blanc as he does with the Estate wine to add complementary rounded and creamy notes to the fruit and floral flavors.

The 2012 Arkenstone NVD is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. After fermentation the wine spent 11 months on the lees in a combination of new and used French oak and concrete.

Enticing aromas of green apple, pineapple, kiwi and white flowers invite you to take a sip. The taste is sophisticated with layered pear, white peach, mango, honeydew and jasmine. It’s soft in the mouth, with good acidity and wet stone minerality adding freshness. The finish is long with lingering apple and peach notes. Look for the official release of the 2012 Arkenstone NVD Sauvignon Blanc in July.

$45, 14.5% alcohol, arkenstone.com
335 West Lane, Angwin, California
707.965.1020

Bernardus Griva Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Just a short drive from the world-famous destinations of Pebble Beach, Monterey Bay Aquarium and picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea is the Bernardus Lodge and Winery. Owner Bernardus (Ben) Pon selected the location with the dream to make a red wine in the Carmel Valley equal to the finest from Bordeaux.

Bernardus Griva Sauvignon BlancA standout in its own right is the winery’s take on white Bordeaux. As is common in Bordeaux, Bernardus’ Sauvignon Blanc has a small percent of Semillon added to the final blend.

The grapes for this white wine come from Griva Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco AVA, just south of Santa Lucia Highlands in the Salinas Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc was hand picked and fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures using three specially selected yeasts. The finished wine has 5% barrel fermented Semillon, added to enhance its richness and complexity.

Wonderfully aromatic with tropical fruit and citrus, the Bernardus Griva Sauvignon Blanc has flavors of white apricot, passion fruit, grapefruit and lime zest with subtle grassy notes on the crisp finish. Refreshing acidity gives the wine a lively mouthfeel, with gentle minerality adding structure.

$22, 13.7% alcohol, bernardus.com
5 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, California
831.298.8021

Galerie Equitem 2012

The debut vintage of Equitem and the newly launched Galerie series is an exciting introduction to winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz, who brings together European techniques and traditions with New World fruit. Her education and Galerie Equitemwinemaking career began in Spain, with stops in New Zealand and Chile before arriving in Napa and working alongside acclaimed Cardinale winemaker Chris Carpenter.

Equitem, meaning “knight” in Latin, is made entirely of Sauvignon Blanc from Knights Valley in Sonoma. The wine was aged on the lees, half in neutral French oak barrels and half in stainless steel tanks. It was stirred three times per week in barrel and two times per week in tank to enhance the mouthfeel of the finished wine.

Showcasing an artistry both inside and outside the bottle, the Equitem Sauvignon Blanc is nuanced and elegant with slate minerality and lively acidity. Golden apple, pear, white peach and guava mingle with white flowers, meringue and subtle vanilla, culminating in a crisp citrus finish.

You’ll also want to try sister wine Naissance, Galerie’s Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley.

$30, 14.3% alcohol, galeriewines.com
P.O. Box 328, Oakville, California

866.715.1993

Round Pond Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2013

How do you make your Sauvignon Blanc stand out in a region that is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon? You focus on the purity of fruit and make the wine as Round Pond Sauvignon Blancclean as possible to highlight the quality of the vineyard. That’s according to Round Pond managing partner Miles MacDonnell, whose family has owned the farm, winery and olive mill since 1983.

Working with winemaker Muiris Griffin, the MacDonnells aim to produce a more classic expression of Sauvignon Blanc that is stylistically closer to Graves in Bordeaux. After a near perfect growing season in 2013, the grapes were hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed and fermented entirely in stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to occur.

Crisp and refreshing are words that immediately come to mind. Aromas of lemon, golden pear and just ripened peach expand on the palate along with bright flavors of white grapefruit, melon, starfruit, lime and a hint of lemongrass.

$24, 14.5% alcohol, roundpond.com
875 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, California
707.302.2575

Séamus Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013

You can’t beat sipping a chilled Sauvignon Blanc outdoors on a hot afternoon in the South – one of the reasons owner and winemaker James Foley Jr. was inspired to make it. Working with his father James Sr. in Marietta, Georgia, James Jr. divides his time between his home in Savannah and winemaking facility in San Francisco.

Seamus Sauv BlancSéamus (the Gaelic equivalent of “James”) focuses on premium, handcrafted wines from California, sourcing grapes from top appellations. The grapes for the Sauvignon Blanc come from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma.

“I try to stick to the traditional European style but I don’t want to hide the opulence of new world fruit,” says Foley Jr., who used a slow fermentation technique in stainless steel to preserve the tropical fruit characteristics.

Apple and citrus aromas introduce flavors of green apple, honeydew, mango and pineapple. The wine is well balanced with refreshing acidity, and ends with a deliciously crisp and dry finish.

When you pick up a bottle of the Séamus Sauvignon Blanc you’ll notice a tribute to home – the label is an image of the live oaks that line the entrance to Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah.

$29, 14.4% alcohol, seamuswines.com
2455 3rd Street, San Francisco, California
415.939.1735

For information on purchasing the wines visit their websites, and look for the wines at wine shops and restaurants.

More White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

It’s Time for Wine: Napa for 2013

By Monty and Sara Preiser

February is a great time for us to slip in and out of Wine Country destinations and then fill you in on what is new, and what remains fantastic. These same places will be ultra-crowded come season, so advance planning is highly recommended. Don’t forget that you can now download the Preiser Key to Napa free to your iPhone or iPad from the AppStore. The magazine is still the only complete and accurate guide to wineries and restaurants, and also contains educational pieces and other useful information (if you don’t mind, please remember to mention the Preiser Key when you make reservations).

Wineries: One New, One Re-Emerges at the Top of its Game, & One Under the Radar

The New: Though making wine for a few years now, Bello Family Vineyards has recently opened one of the more impressive tasting rooms in the Valley. It is just the place to sample the superb wines being crafted by A-List wine maker Aaron Pott, who came aboard in time to finish the 2007 vintage and has had his brilliant hand in the mix ever since.

A true family winery, proprietor Michael Bello has three loves: his construction business, thoroughbred racing, and fine wine. It was only natural for him to parlay his business into producing both a champion filly, Megahertz, and a champion wine brand.

2010 Bello Chardonnay ($45): A kiss of Viognier proves to be a splendid addition to this 20 month barrel aged wine. We detected a soft, buttery flavor from start to mid-palate, and a panna cotta white chocolate finish. Quite the profile for a Chard.

2009 Bello Marsanne ($38): When Marsanne is good, as it is here, it is very, very good. Though it is the most widely planted grape in the northern Rhone Valley, it has not yet made the desirable impression in the U.S. that the Bello version shows it can. A full wine with great acids abounding with nuts and honey awaits you in this bottle.

2009 MEGAHERTZ Cabernet Sauvignon ($50): Given its production and cost, we think this may ultimately be the flagship wine that defines Bello in the eyes of the mass public. Few wines of the price offer such a rich chocolaty nose, as intense a bright black cherry mid-palate, the significant “chew,” and a 10+ second finish.

2008 Bello Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($100): This is a big and bold bottle of wine with black fruit and coffee immediately prevalent, and some serious secondary characteristics (forest floor, smoke) just emerging. Aaron’s first creation from start to finish at Bello.

2009 Bello Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($100): Concentrated yet approachable, describes this beautiful wine. Layers of black fruit, blue fruit, tar, and earth treat the palate. Perhaps the best recommendation? A Double Gold Medal last month from the American Fine Wine Competition, one of the few places you can find the tasting being performed in a totally blind manner by judges of no bias who all have accomplished palates.

2009 Bello Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($250): A word to the many fine and super expensive Cabs being produced in Napa Valley – move over and give the Bello Reserve some room, as it is closing on the rail. It is so good that at first we might think it a lucky hit, but with the knowledge that Aaron is at the helm, he will most likely produce such opulence in the years to come. The wine immediately impresses with its juicy full mouth that trickles down the tongue and itself drives you back for more. But an impossibly long finish following earth, smoke, anise, and spice keeps you in the game as well. This one belongs in the winner’s circle.

Appointments are not necessary, but having one can never hurt. Rick Healy, long experienced in the hospitality field and known to many of you, is now holding court at Bello along with a fine staff. The creatively elegant surroundings will only add to your enjoyment here.

Back On Its Game: As the many people we have escorted to Turnbull Wine Cellars can attest, we are long-time fans of the wines. But as we have written many times over the years, one can become discouraged about a wine for many reasons – some as small as being treated with indifference in a tasting room.

Since the advent of our friend Peter Heitz as winemaker, we have been in a quandary. We love Peter’s wines (both the Turnbull and his private label), but there always seemed to be an administrative lack of energy that should accompany such excellent wines. We had been told that had changed, and so off we went to find out for ourselves. It proved to be a good move.

We have been around long enough to immediately know and identify the signs of a place where you want to taste wines. That we were in the right room was readily apparent, and Burroughs, Abigail, and Alex made sure the ambiance continued – not just for us but for the visitors from Oregon, Texas, Chicago, and the Bay Area as well. Of course, they had Peter’s superb wines to help them out.

While we tasted other varietals, the stars of the day here were the Cabernet Sauvignons. So many were outstanding that it was almost a gluttonous experience. Each one, which we will list below, showed individual characteristics of terroir, fruit profiles, tannins and finish. The tasting isn’t free, but it is very reasonably priced, and we can say without reservation that this should be a stop in Napa for any lover of quality Cabs.

Monty’s Favorite: 2009 Leopoldina ($75)
Sara’s Favorite: 2009 Amoenus ($75)
Great Buy: 2009 Napa ($40)
A Cellar Needs: 2009 Black Label ($100)
Lush Library: 2007 Audaci ($85)
For Discerning Minds: 2009 Fortuna (Monty liked a lot, Sara a little less so)

2011 Oakville Viognier ($30): A whiff of enticing perfume hits the nose, followed by bright apricot and nectar in the mouth. This is no wimpy Viognier, finishing long and round.

2009 Leopoldina Cabernet Franc ($60): Chewy black fruit gives way to a bright, spice finish. This is a hard varietal to get right, but it is directly up Peter’s power alley and he hits it out of the park.

Ready to Soar: Even after (“ahem”) years in Napa, little is as thrilling as driving to a private home located in the vineyards – an estate – to taste wine with the owners and winemakers. Sometimes we even glance at each other as if to empathically ask whether our hosts have invited the right people.

We have always enjoyed the wines from Allora Vineyards, yet we might like this wonderful family even more. Terry Klein is the wine serious/social comic patriarchal host, and son Chris is obviously of the generation now in daily charge of the business. We see the two daughters, Cortney and Kelly, periodically at two other wineries where they hold prestigious positions, but they too are intimately involved with Allora. Today we missed the last link in this family affair, matriarch Nancy, but her good influence on the children is obvious.

The estate in St. Helena consists of 15 beautiful acres with 10 planted to vine. All of the wines are produced here, and all are crafted by noted winemaker Rudy Zuidema, who has a penchant for making wines of structure and seamlessness that we have always liked (no, more than just “liked,” – let’s say “respected” for their excellence as well).

2010 Allora Lieta ($30): Mostly Sauvignon Blanc, yet with a healthy dose of Semillon (and a surprise ingredient), this little gem is floral with perceived sweetness which is really the significant fruit flavors of apricot and peach blossom. And in a move with which we are not familiar, Rudy has added the lees from a Chardonnay barrel for about 5 weeks to add some creaminess and dimension.

2009 Tresca ($60): Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with 12% Petite Sirah and 7 % Cabernet Franc adding earthy cedar and bright cherry nuances, this full bodied wine seems to find flavors shooting throughout the upper palate and then lingering for an extraordinarily long time.

2009 Cabernet Franc ($75): Bold, dark fruit streams from front to back, as do the dancing tannins. Many Cab Francs are a bit light in body, but the addition of over 20% cabernet Sauvignon here gives strength throughout.

2008 Petite Sirah ($65): Rich and complex with a spice on the nose, plums in the middle, and a terrific body. One of the best Petite Sirahs we know.

2009 Lusso ($125): Sometimes a wine is so well made, the fruit so well extracted, the structure so nicely attuned, the flavors so well integrated, and the finish so pleasing, that it is not necessary to over analyze the product further. This is one of those times.

2010 Sussurro ($75 for 375ml): A well made Late Harvest and somewhat unusual Cabernet Sauvignon/Late Harvest Petite Sirah blend. Black cherries and creaminess control, and the lack of cloyness, while preserving the sweet nature of the wine, is a great asset.

——————————————————————–

It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley and Sonoma, the most comprehensive guides to wineries and restaurants in Napa and Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

It’s Time for Wine: Sonoma Valley Appellations

By Monty and Sara Preiser

Most oenophiles are aware of the Russian River, Chalk Hill and Carneros districts of Sonoma, but few others. As Sonoma county winemakers continue to refine their decisions as to what varieties grow best in what locations, the designation of the wine’s appellation will become more and more important.

In Sonoma County, as in other wine producing areas of this country, there are grape growing/producing regions that each possess characteristics approved as unique by the government, and, thus, are granted status as an American Viticultural Area (commonly referred to as “AVA” or “Appellation”). While memorizing these AVAs is not necessary, it will enhance your understanding and fun to have at least a general working knowledge of each one, and what you can expect from a wine that bears an Appellation name on its label.

Modern oenology allows the luxury of matching grape varieties with the locations that are best suited to grow them. Individual regions feature distinct meso or microclimates (functions of wind, rain, temperature, and time-in-the-sun) as well as terrain – hill, valley, foothills, type of soil, etc. When all of these factors, which obviously affect the grapes, are put together, they can be said to create a specific “terroir,” or, for lack of a better definition, “sense of place.”

Why is it important to know a wine’s AVA? For many reasons, most of which have to do with predicting how a wine should taste or be paired, before you actually taste or purchase it. Being cognizant of what an AVA brings to the bottle can help you select a wine to go with a particular dish, or decide whether a price is fair. For example, the Russian River AVA is well known for producing cooler climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. If you saw a Zinfandel with a Russian River Appellation, you might have some doubts about ordering it before having the opportunity somewhere to taste it.

But the good thing about drinking wine is that once a bottle is opened and you actually taste the wine yourself, all bets are off. You can then make the call as to whether you like it and what foods you want to accompany it. If you are satisfied, that is all that matters. Let’s discuss the various Appellations below.

Sonoma County

Placing this first since all the other thirteen smaller appellations are a part of it, a winery might use this appellation if a bottle of its wine contained grapes from more than two viticultural areas other than those in the Northern Sonoma (see below) region. If it sounds like “Sonoma County” is a catch-all, it is. There is no unifying description of its characteristics.

Alexander Valley

Located in the northern part of the county, Alexander Valley includes both the flatlands and the hills to the east and west (22 miles long and from 2 to 7 miles wide). The diverse micro-climates support the growing of a number of grape types, though Cabernet Sauvignnon is the star.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, some Chardonnay.

Bennett Valley

This is a small AVA, but rising in stature all the time. It benefits tremendously by being bordered by three mountains which permit the cool early fog and winds to blow from the Pacific down the gap which is Bennett Valley. The extra hang time needed to obtain ripeness allows for very balanced wines.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel.

Carneros (formally “Los Carneros”)

Don’t be confused as this Appellation is partly in Napa as well (one of only 2 places in the U.S. of which we are aware where an Appellation crosses county lines). As Carneros is just off the San Pablo Bay in the county’s southernmost area, it is quite cool.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and recently some excellent Merlot.

Chalk Hill

This name comes from the soil of white, chalky, volcanic ash found in the mountains (actually there is no chalk – it is a mixture of quartzite, sand, and loam). The region, north of Santa Rosa, experiences plenty of sun and heat from a thermal belt that influences the temperatures.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc.

Dry Creek Valley

Named for Dry Creek, a tributary to the Russian River and irrigated by Lake Sonoma, this region is about 16 miles long and 2 miles wide and experiences warm late mornings and afternoons following morning fog from the Pacific. Wines are grown on the valley floor and hillsides above.

Best Varietals: Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, some Chardonnay.

Fort Ross – Seaview

The county’s newest appellation, approved by the TTB in late 2011, its 27,500 acres were carved out of the 480,000 acre Sonoma Coast, the latter of which actually extends somewhat inland. Truly located on the shoreline, this AVA was granted its distinct status because much of it is mountainous and thus above the fog line that often affects the rest of the older, larger appellation.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Green Valley (formally Green Valley of Russian River)

This small, beautiful area near Sebastopol is worth exploring on many levels (redwood forests, llama farms), but from a wine standpoint is is significant that it may be the coolest, foggiest region in Sonoma County – even cooler than the rest of the Russian River Valley.

Best Varietals: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Knights Valley

Located next to Napa Valley and protected from the cool Pacific Ocean influences due to its geography, this region is the warmest in all of Sonoma County. Its warm days and cool nights provide the ideal weather for producing Bordeaux grapes of all kinds.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot.

Northern Sonoma

This region encompasses a half dozen other appellations (Chalk Hill and the Alexander, Dry Creek, Green, Knights, and Russian River Valleys) and was primarily championed by giant Gallo, which wanted a definitive umbrella appellation so it could make an “estate wine” at its winery in Dry Creek using grapes from the other aforementioned areas. Gallo is the only winery using this AVA designation, which is cooled by the Pacific rather than the San Pablo Bay, and has sedimentary rather than volcanic soils.

Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak

This is an interesting new (Fall of 2011) AVA, in that it includes part of northeastern Sonoma County and portions of Mendocino County. Only about 5% of its 4,600 acres are planted with just a bit more under development. The area is relatively fog free, so it has ample sunlight, and is cooler than the Alexander Valley, much of which stretches below.

Best Varietals: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, some Chardonnay.

Rockpile

This appellation’s name is quite descriptive of the hardscrabble soils and actual rocks in and around which the vines here must struggle to grow (survival of the fittest, as they say). Rockpile is also above the fog line, so, while ocean cooled, the evening mist is not a factor and sun is plentiful.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel.

Russian River Valley

Not really including the entire Russian River Valley, this region follows the river from Healdsburg south to Santa Rosa and then west to Occidental. It is remarkable for the fog that rolls down the river banks from the ocean and lasts until late morning, creating the perfect cool climate for world class wines.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, some Syrah.

Sonoma Coast

A huge geographical area abutting the Pacific coast (San Pablo Bay in the south all the way to the Mendocino border) belies the fact that it is sparsely planted. Cooler and wetter than most of Sonoma, the vineyards benefit from being above the fog line, and ultimately achieve great balance due to a long growing season.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Sonoma Mountain

East of the Sonoma Valley near the town of Glen Ellen, this region allows a number of varietals to be successfully grown because of its diverse micro climates created by mountain crevices and some rolling slopes. Primarily eastern facing and above the fog line, sunshine is abundant.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel.

Sonoma Valley

Running north/south between the town of Sonoma and Santa Rosa, this is also called “The Valley of the Moon.” The mountains on both sides protect the area from Pacific weather and so the southern part is cooled from the San Pablo Bay while the northern areas can become quite hot.

Best Varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Semillon, Merlot.

——————————————————————–

It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, the most comprehensive guide to wineries and restaurants in the Napa Valley, published every March, July, and November. In fall 2011 the Preisers released the first issue of The Preiser Key to Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

AG Pick: Jaillance Cuvee de l’Abbaye Cremant de Bordeaux

If you love French sparkling wine but are turned off by the high price of Champagne, make Crémant your celebratory bubbly.

Crémant is the name for the sparkling wine produced in France outside of the Champagne region. Made in the same method as Champagne but typically costing much less, Crémant is the perfect blend of the finesse and flavors you look for in a sparkling wine.

The great thing about Crémant is that it is not limited to the three grapes of Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). Crémant is made from each region’s native grapes, which can mean a wider variety of flavors than what you find in Champagne.

For a wonderful taste of Crémant in general and Crémant de Bordeaux in particular, try the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye Brut, AOC Crémant de Bordeaux. Made entirely from Semillon grapes, this wine has mouth-filling fruit flavors that will make you a Crémant devotee.

Semillon is one of the two main white wine grapes in Bordeaux, along with Sauvignon Blanc. The sparkling wine is produced by méthode Champenoise (also called the traditional method), with the second fermentation taking place in the bottle. The Cuvée de l’Abbaye is aged on the lees for 24 months.

Right away you’ll notice how pale the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye is — extremely light yellow, almost without any color. This seems in contrast with the round and fresh flavors you get in each sip. Ripe lemon, white grapefruit, white raspberries, almond and a touch of brioche are enhanced by small bubbles. Dry, crisp and elegant, the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye has all the desirable characteristics you look for in a brut sparkling wine.

A bottle of the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye Brut Crémant de Bordeaux costs $19.

12% alcohol by volume

AG Pick: Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Soleil

I’m not sure how I was able to wait more than a year to open a bottle of the 2005 Soleil from Dry Creek Vineyard that’s been sitting in my wine fridge.  Perhaps I was a little bit worried I had built it up too much in my head.  Would I still find it as good as when I tried it last summer at Dry Creek’s tasting room?

2005 SoleilFortunately my fears were unnecessary.  The Soleil was even more delicious than I remembered.

The Soleil is a late harvest wine made with 62% Sauvignon Blanc and 38% Semillon from Sonoma County.  It underwent barrel fermentation and spent 15 months in French oak.  For a sweet wine it has a surprisingly high alcohol percentage, 13.5 percent.

Soleil, French for sun, is a perfect name for this wine.  It’s brilliant gold in color and smells like sunshine in a glass.  Intoxicating aromas of vanilla, rose petal, honey and apricot invite you to take a sip.  On the palate are flavors of sweet apricot, white peach, jasmine and vanilla, which are balanced out by crisp Asian pear.

The wine is rich in texture while still delicate, with a luxuriously silky mouthfeel.  Gentle acidity preserves the upbeat and sweet characteristics of the wine while preventing it from feeling heavy or syrupy.  It’s a dessert wine that will convert non dessert wine fans.

The 2005 Soleil is perfect as an after dinner drink and can be enjoyed with fresh fruit, dessert, or on its own.

A 375 ml bottle of the Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Soleil costs $25.