80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc
- Dessert wines have developed such a bad reputation. As stupid as it sounds, if I have to hear one more person say “…wow…that’s sweet!!!” or “…I couldn’t drink a whole bottle of that!!!” I may very well stab myself in the eye with a wine opener. To me, it’s exactly the same as saying “…wow….this Filet Mignon is kind of beefy!!!” or “…this steak is great…but I don’t think I could eat a whole cow!!!”
Dessert wines (even Moscato) are to be enjoyed in much smaller quantities than regular table wines. 2oz of a wine such as the Dolce (with dessert) is even probably bordering on too much.
- Dolce was created back in 1985 by the partners of Far Niente (“dolce far niente” being an Italian-idiom for a “sweet idleness”). The winery is still the only winery (in North America) producing a single late-harvest dessert wine. Few other wineries are crazy enough (and have enough cash) to back up such a project!
- I have it under good authority that the Dolce label is one of, if not the most, expensive wine labels in the world to produce.
- The 2006 Dolce spent 31 months in new French oak barrels before being unleashed to the general public. This gains more significance once you realize Far Niente/Nickel & Nickel Cabernets only spend around 17 months in oak.
- The ‘06 Dolce received 98 points in the Wine Enthusiast and an identical score from the ever-so-charming Steve Heimoff.
- The grapes that go into the Dolce are hand-harvested from 20 acres of private vineyard in Coombsville, Napa. These vineyards are planted strictly to Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, the same white grapes found in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, from which the Dolce takes its inspiration.
- Over 80% of the grapes harvested from the Dolce vineyards, never make it into the final product. These grapes are instead sold on to other wineries….which they in-turn use in their own wines….always with the ever-present marketing hyperbole of “….we actually use grapes from an ultra-premium winery in Napa…but we are sworn to secrecy as to which exact one…but needless to say it’s waaaaaay more expensive than our wine…!”
- One of the most important thing aspects about the Dolce is the arrival of botrytis in the vineyard. This “noble not” causes the grapes to shrivel and intensifies the flavors and sweetness, and can only form during very specific weather conditions.
- Dolce depend on a combination of the perfect level of humidity followed by drier weather in order to encourage the mold to grow and spread. Since nothing in life is ever easy, the spread of botrytis is never uniform in any vineyard. Harvesting the grapes therefore must be completed by hand, requiring multiple passes, and is an extremely slow process, since grapes often need to be picked individually (rather than whole bunches). The harvest at Dolce usually stretches out over 7 weeks, and lasts into late-November. All of this helps to explain the price!
We’re on another level of dessert wine with the Dolce. Complex is a severe understatement! Intense candied apricot, peaches in honey, caramelized pear, sugar-coated orange peel and a slight hint of spice. A simply stunning dessert wine, with acidity lending itself to a long and drawn out finish. With proper storage, I can’t even begin to estimate how long this wine is capable of being cellared for!
Foie gras, crème brulee, custards, apple pie, soufflé, crème caramel, key lime pie, and ice-cream (in all its many forms).
$85 – She ain’t cheap, but arguably the best dessert wine produced in this country comes at a price!