Dessert Wine 2017

Best Dessert Wine - 2017

The Fifty Best Dessert Wine Tasting of 2017


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 5 dessert wines with 11 members of our wine judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the wines were poured into fresh wine glasses from new sealed bottles and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water and white peasant bread were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The appelations are identified for each brand. Prices do not include sales tax.


Castello di Cacchiano
Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 2004

(Siena, Italy) $55 per 375ml bottle

This wine was made from Malvasia del Chianti Blanca (85%) and Canaiolo (15%) grapes grown in the Monti in Chianti area. Following harvest, the grapes were naturally dried on wooden crates with fermentation, and aging taking place over 12.5 years.

Aroma: Apricot, dried apricot, burnt orange peel, molasses, maple, pancake syrup, butterscotch, caramel, crème brulee, vanilla, white flowers, earthy, Madeira, faint charred oak.
Palate: Orange peel, stewed citrus peel, citrus, candied citrus, dried plums, raisins, dark raisins, molasses, maple, butterscotch, creamy, sweet vanilla, rich honey, floral, nutty, walnut, pine, smooth, silky, lovely balance of tannin, oak and fruit, elegant.
Finish: Apricot, golden graham cracker, honey, vanilla throughout, faint maple syrup, a little smoky, balanced, pleasant, nice finish (digestif), amazing from nose to finish.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Castello di Cacchiano Vin Santo



Santa Barbara Winery
2013 Late Harvest Riesling, Lafond Vineyard

(Santa Rita Hills, California) $32 per 375ml bottle

The sugar concentration of the Riesling grapes for this wine was concentrated by inducing Botrytis cinerea to attack the grapes. Following this process, the release of the sugary juice from the grapes was accomplished by “foot stomping” (wearing rubber boots), with fermentation next taking place in stainless steel tanks.

Aroma: Apricot, ripe white peach, pineapple, mango, passionfruit, citrus, dried apricots, dried white plum, golden raisin, white raisin, sweet vanilla, butter, honeysuckle, floral, white flowers.
Palate: Apricot, ripe pear, apple, white grapes, Sun Maid white raisins, golden raisins, candied tropical fruit, lemon tart, cream, demerara sugar, thick honey glaze, honey, honeysuckle, elderflower, chamomile, sweet floral, licorice, almond skin, oak, liquid gold.
Finish: Apricots, cassis, honey, honeycomb, perfectly tart, nice mouthfeel, soft, elegant, delicious.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Santa Barbara Winery Late Harvest Riesling

Deaver Vineyards
Amador County Angelica Port

(Plymouth, California) $60

Made from Mission grapes harvested from vines over 100 years old, this wine was fortified with local Mission brandy.

Aroma: Apricot, grape, pear, stewed pear, dried orange peel, dried raisins, Chambord, honey, caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, wood barrel, oak.
Palate: Apricot, orange peel, stewed figs, prunes, apple cider, dried grapes, honey, molasses, candied maple, warm caramel, vanilla, oak, silky, sweet, rich.
Finish: Apricot, dried apricots, dates, caramel, fig jam, honey, almonds, nutmeg, concentrated, super-balanced, smooth, velvety, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Deaver Vineyards Angelica Port


2012 Vintage Port, Four Grapes

(Dry Creek Valley, California) $26

This wine was fashioned from a blend of Tinta Madeira, Tinta Cao, Touriga Nacional and Souza grapes and fortified with neutral spirits to stop fermentation. Aging took place in seasoned oak barrels for 4 years prior to bottling.

Aroma: Plum, dried cherries, licorice, anisette, coffee, oak.
Palate: Cherry, plum, black currant, cassis, blueberries, dried red grapes, grape jam, candied cherries, port, fennel, anise, basil, coffee grounds, BBQ oak barrel, beautifully-balanced sweetness and fruit.
Finish: Raisin, honey, maple, soft, big smoky, sweet and sour.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Pedroncelli 2012 Vintage Port

Brian Carter Cellars
Opulento 2014

(Yakima Valley, Washington) $22 per 375ml bottle

This vintage port-style wine was made from a number of varietals including Touriga Nacional, and fortified with local brandy.

Aroma: Dark cherries, plum, currant, dried cherries, dried fruit, raisins, triple berry pie (cooked black and red raspberries with cherry), buttery, butterscotch, tobacco, leather, BBQ, pig roast, campfire, charred oak.
Palate: Cherry, plum, overripe blackberries, boysenberry, pear, citrus peel, dried currant, dates, figs, brandied cherries crisped over a fire, chocolate, butter, nougat, smoke, strong tannins.
Finish: Plums, short cherry, dried fruit, creamy, cream soda, acid balances sweetness, smooth, easy.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Brian Carter Cellars Opulento 2014



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