Eschew the common temptations of holiday sweets and consider something less conventional—our stunning selection of dessert wines from France and Italy. We have some classics available now: Sauternes, Beaumes-de-Venise, and Vouvray. But don’t miss Banyuls, Rivesaltes, or the aromatic wonder that is Barolo Chinato. We’ll make it easy on you: During the month of December, 25% off per bottle.
The Leydiers at Domaine de Durban are particularly proud of their Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, a vin doux naturel, as they are among the last to craft it in the traditional style. The old-fashioned vinification keeps the spirits as low as possible, so that they may hold on to the bright freshness in the grapes. One can find more powerful Muscats, but none as tasty and fine.
The oxidative, fortified winemaking tradition of the northwestern Mediterranean is quickly becoming a lost art. The Roussillon, a large part of which is French Catalonia, was historically a very important production area for this style of wine. These wines were for seafaring men, as the wine doesn’t spoil under even the most extreme conditions. The tradition is alive and well at La Tour Vieille, in the ancient port town of Collioure near the Spanish border. Vincent Cantié produces this Banyuls, named after another nearby port, from ripe Grenache whose fermentation is arrested by distilled spirits; the resulting wine is sweet and fruity with about 16 percent alcohol. It is best consumed as a digestif, with chocolate desserts, or in the midst of a mighty gale many miles offshore.
The Roûmieu-Lacoste is a ravishing beast, its decadent sweetness matched only by its refreshing acidity. The excellent balance and dazzling complexity make it a thrill to drink now and a sure thing for the cellar. Don’t underestimate the number of occasions this beauty will serve you. It is a habit-forming apéritif with or without foie gras. It marries better with cheeses than most reds, and the French are known to admire it with Sunday’s roast chicken. Try it with shucked oysters for the most unlikely of revelations. And with dessert? Yes. As dessert? Yes.
Ask anyone who has worked at KLWM for over twenty years to name their favorite wine from Kermit’s legendary cellar and you will get the same response: the 1947 Moelleux from Épiré. The aromas are too abundant to name, their beauty and intrigue unparalleled in the wine world. Here is your chance—if you can be patient—to create some of the most exciting memories of your wine life.
Barolo Chinato was once peddled as a cure-all elixir, said to heal miscellaneous daily discomforts. Appropriately, the ingredients in the Fantino brothers’ Chinato read like a potions book: there’s Calissaja Quinine, Genziana, Colombo, and Centaurea. The details are intriguingly vague—Italian legislation insists that the vintage of the wine remain unknown, and herb sources are a guarded family secret. The result is a deliciously aromatized Barolo, fascinating and complex with a long, herbal finish. Though medical claims were long ago dispelled, this can still be honestly touted as the ideal digestivo.
This is the Champalous’ late-harvest wine, gently sweet yet retaining the mouthwatering acidity that Chenin from the great sites of the Loire can provide. Moelleux, or the feminine moelleuse, is a French word describing texture that canalso be used to describe food. “Smooth” and “tender” are both translations. Making a moelleux requires harvesting later, thus achieving higher natural sugar, which provides glycerin in the wine. The trick is to perfect the balance between the decadent textural component and a certain freshness, in order to leave the palate invigorated. The Champalous’ Moelleuse achieves just that and is one of the best ways I can think of to finish an evening at table.
Mille Vignes has only seven and a half hectares (nineteen acres) of vines, by choice. “I could enlarge, but the wines wouldn’t be the same,” according to vigneronne Valérie Guérin. The terroir she works in this very southernmost part of France is an amalgam of clay, limestone, and schist soils; wild scrubland scented with thyme and lavender, and perhaps the most potent force of all, the fierce Tramontagne wind. Muscat de Rivesaltes, a local specialty, is a vin doux naturel produced when fermentation of very ripe Muscat grapes is halted midway by addition of a neutral spirit, a process known as mutage. Mille Vignes’ Muscat de Rivesaltes flaunts a ravishing perfume of infinite flowers and fruits, equally refreshing as an apéritif as it is satisfying with dessert.
The reasons to be overwhelmed with enthusiasm over Daniel and Valérie Alibrand’s Sauternes are bountiful, so I suggest asking one of our staff why we hold this producer in such high regard. To briefly outline it, this is truly artisanal Sauternes—made by hardworking farmers who are willing to sacrifice quantity for excellence. For example, the rigorous sorting to select the best fruit means making up to seven passes through the vineyards, picking berry by berry. The yields come out to around ten hectoliters per hectare—compare that to Château d’Yquem. Or you can forget the details and simply stick your nose into a glass of this divine nectar to comprehend our excitement.
In the Jura village of Nevy-sur-Seille, François Rousset-Martin exhibits skilled artistry to craft wines in many styles from the stunning vineyards around Château-Chalon. The latest marvel to come out of his cellar is this dessert wine from Chardonnay grapes dried for several months in wood crates, then pressed and aged for five years in barrel without topping-up. It is richly concentrated and yet boasts a lively acidity, while the aromatics will take you for a psychedelic ride. This Jurassic delicacy it is truly one of a kind.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa