Wednesday, June 2, 2010



My wife loves her sweets.  Well, yes, that does include me.  She also loves dessert wines, and has a history of selecting them for us with an uncanny knack for choosing some very high-quality sweet wines.

The Mer Soleil LATE came in a shipment of Monterey County dessert wines for review - her eyes lit up when we opened that box - and, like the others in the crate, it did not disappoint.

LATE is a late harvest Viognier from Santa Lucia, kissed by a favorite fungus fans of dessert wine are fond of - Botrytis cinerea.  The Noble Rot, as it is sometimes called, affects grapes on the vine, and those grapes produce wines that are sweet.

The color grabs your attention right away, and I love when a wine does that.  The color is an extremely rich gold, vibrant and beautiful.  Aromas of  honeyed apricots make a lovely nose, which are also in abundance on the palate.  An orange zest profile reveals itself in the flavors, too, but in a secondary role to the apricots and honey.  The wine is sweet, but does not cloy; the sweetness is bold and lively.  The finish lingers as if it's trying to stick around until the next sip is taken.  The alcohol content is only 10.5% abv, but the acidity is almost high enough to be called bracing. 

The Mer Soleil winery also grows Meyer lemon trees on their property, figuring if the grapes get damaged by frost, the lemons would probably be OK and they could at least harvest something.  The lemons are a welcome addition to their income, I'm sure, but it's nice to know they haven't had to resort to a lemon wine.  I'll take the late harvest Viognier any day.

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