I love port and sherry but this is not a passion widely shared. While younger drinkers have recently been reaching for the Moscato and sweet red blends, in general, the popularity of traditional sweet, dessert wines, is in a long-slow decline. In part, this is because modern winemakers have learned how to stabilize wine without adding sugar so fortified wines are no longer as important to the wine industry. Furthermore, because fortified wines require aging to reach their potential, they are expensive to make and unattractive to a wine-buying public that is in the habit of drinking wine soon after purchase.
But their image problem doesn’t help. Port brings to mind old men smoking big cigars and sherry is grandma’s go-to Christmas tipple—neither guise will cause bottles to fly off the shelf.
If sweet wines are to make a comeback, producers will have to innovate and generate excitement with new taste sensations—Vinavanti’s Alchemist does just that.
A burst of apricot pound cake with orange zest and baking spices opens the nose and palate but, with its disciplined backbone, this is no ordinary dessert wine. It has a complex texture with a soft, round layer of fruit in tension with bristling acidity and fiery, medium grain tannins that creep up and grab. Clean, bright, and drying on the finish. If you’re tired of cloying, dessert wines you will find this refreshing.
One of the most original wines I’ve come across.This is 100% Viognier fermented with indigenous yeast on skins, seeds, and stems in a conical-shaped beer-fermenter, which after fortification is sealed for 4 months before bottling. (The cone-shaped fermenter was inspired by the qveri, a conical clay pot used by Georgians in their traditional winemaking.) No. I never heard of it either, but it produces an exhilarating wine that evolves from enticing to fierce.
If you want innovation, you won’t find it in big, commercial wineries with bean-counters poking around the barrel room. Look to your small, local winery where dedicated iconoclasts like Vinavanti’s Eric Van Drunen can be found working through their personal vision.
Vinavanti is an urban winery and tasting room in San Diego, specializing in low-intervention, “natural” wines, and soon to move into new digs in Hillcrest.
Score: N/A [Wine scores are inherently comparative. I don’t know the comparison class for this wine]
Tension makes great wine and great music. What song evolves from sweet to fierce?
Desire is hunger is the fire I breathe
Love is a banquet on which we feed