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Pear, apple and lime aromas vie for attention before touched by scents of delicate honeysuckle backed by “wet stone” minerality. Upon a sip, the wine’s richness fills the mid-palate. It’s not a dry wine, but it’s not sticky sweet either. Voluptuous and ethereal, it tickles the tip of the tongue with honey. Ripe fruit is supported by subtle notes of melon, almonds and citrus zest that resolve with a kiss of minerals. Its fruit and silken texture strike a balance, progressing across the palate with a mouthwatering, citrus-like brightness for a refreshing finish.
Sure, it’s great with delicate desserts, but to limit this wine to non-savory applications would be a shame. Choucroute garni comes to mind, as well as many spicy cuisines... and don’t forget the cheese course!
Just because we call it "late" doesn't mean it's only for dessert.
A subtle, late harvest wine
“I hate sweet wine, but I’ll take a glass of that chardonnay!” said the gentleman without a bit of irony in his voice. I hear this sentiment of misdirected hostility often. It goes back to the old saying that people order dry, yet drink sweet.
I too hate sweet wine ... that is, table wine that normally should not be sweet, or dessert wines that are sticky sweet without balanced acidity. I have a problem with many New World Chards and Cabs, where the sugar is only there to plump up the wine and cover up flaws, or dessert wines that are only about the high sugar content. I prefer late harvest wines that are understated and elegant and pair with dessert or cheese, as opposed to being dessert itself.
When I was younger, I liked excess ... 18 courses at the French Laundry topped by a decadent chocolate dessert and a sticky. Oh yeah! I wore that hangover like a badge of honor. Now that kind of excess hurts too much. My kids get up at the same time no matter what and I would prefer to function the next day with a smile on my face.
Then I discovered the late harvest wines of Alsace ... yum! I could have these wines with muenster cheese and honey, or fruit and nut based desserts. A balanced late harvest wine with a delicate dessert leaves you feeling refreshed and sated versus stuffed and hammered ... how you feel the next day is dependent on your definition of sated!
RSV’s Pinot Gris Late is only produced when the weather patterns are ideal for a late harvest wine. However, just because we call it “Late” does not mean it is only for dessert. Try it with cheese or spicy foods like Thai, Sichuan and more conventional fare like pork roast, sausages and grilled burgers. It works because it is a delicate, sweet wine. We like to say that it is fashionably late!
Nothing expresses a region’s character like a spoonful of wildflower honey. The flavor
of the precious golden liquid varies depending on the indigenous flowers of the area. Like honey, wine can express its regionality — if a winemaker so desires. All great sweet wines have a calling card of characteristics, French Sauternes, Quarts de Chaumes, Vendange Tardive and Selection de Grains Nobles, German Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, Hungarian Tokaji, are all distinct wines of place when nurtured by a receptive winemaker.
RSV Pinot Gris Late is not created to mimic these great wines, but rather serves as a finely chiseled, ethereally sweet wine with an Old World soul. This tiny production, single vineyard Pinot Gris from the Carneros can be presented at the start of a meal with a crab and citrus salad, foie gras terrine, or a salad with fruit elements or blue cheese. It finishes a meal magnificently with a honey and citrus scented cake, fruit poached in spiced syrup or a nice wedge of full fat cheese. RSV Pinot Gris Late is a versatile, stylish wine full of delicate aromatics and acidity that zips across and refreshes the palate. Enjoy!
Until the next wine…
In Alsace, an inspirational region for the whites of RSV, there are a growing number of winegrowers heralding Pinot Gris as the classic variety of the region. Pinot Gris ripens more easily than Riesling and carries a golden richness with an enticing spicy and nutty character that intensifies with age. Furthering its case, Pinot Gris, because of its brisk edge and relatively reserved aromatic demeanor, serves as a superlative food wine.
Amongst the best expressions of Alsace Pinot Gris are those harvested late to attain Vendange Tardive (VdT) status. The Vendange Tardive category denotes wines made from grapes left to hang long on the vine. By French law, the grapes must reach a minimum natural potential alcohol and, in principle, should display the complexities gained from extended hang time.
Wines carrying the related Selection de Grains Nobles designation have higher requirements and must be made from grapes afflicted with botrytis, the noble rot that desiccates berries, concentrating flavor and sugar. Botrytis is elusive, at least where and when you want it.
RSV’s Pinot Gris Late is our interpretation of the Vendange Tardive tradition. After harvesting most of the fruit from RSV’s Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard near the county line in the Carneros, the harvest crew left the Pinot Gris to hang. They came back for the fruit on September 29, 2007. It came in at 27.2° brix, well above the minimum requirement for VdT in Alsace. After a gentle whole cluster press and a three day juice rack at low temperature to settle solids, the must fermented in stainless tank for 28 days to 3.6° brix.