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California dessert wine

YH has a sweet tooth and has all but squandered the family fortune on Tokaji from Hungary, Barsac from Bordeaux, trockenbeerenauslese from Germany, Ice Wine from upstate NY and Canada, Vin Santo (and others whose names escape me) from Italy, ond on various fortified goodies from Iberia. He even enjoys "port" and Sauternes knock-offs from Australia.

But I cannot recall drinking or even ordering dessert wine from the state of California.

I cannot explain why this is. It can't be because they aren't good.

So please list some of your favorites.

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  1. a dessert wine that is very "california" and very unique is late harvest zinfandel.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chicago Mike

      ooh, that sounds good. Which producers are known for this?

      1. re: Yaqo Homo

        Many LH Zins are good, though possibly a bit lighter, than you might expect. There are also several "port-styled" Zins, that are a bit heavier.

        I like two US dessert wines, that are not port-styled: Grgich Hills and Far Niente. Both are a bit pricey, but well worth the $ with the right desserts. Tow more, that might be easier on the pocketbook are the Beringer Nightengale (have not tried the new release, but in the old days, this was an excellent dessert wine) and Modavi's Muscat de'Oro.


        1. re: Yaqo Homo

          Bella makes the best late-harvest Zinfandel I've tasted of ten or so. Last summer I served it with my raspberry "cobbler" with a macaroon cookie/coconut/almond topping, and we all felt the eyes roll back into our heads. I can still picture the evening I served this: all of us seated at the table on the deck, the dessert, the moment we tasted and drank.

          Bella Winery, based in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Region, is known for its Zins.I find some of them too big, but perhaps that is what makes the late-harvest Zin so tantalizing. Powerful, clean fruit flavors.

          My tendency regarding dessert wines is enjoy my international favorites or my favorite local, Napa Valley, ones. So, adding on to Bill Hunt's recs of Sauternes-style California dessert wines:

          The best American late-harvest botrytised wine is probably Dolce, made by Far Niente. It is expensive but easily ranks with the very best of Sauternes. Personal confession: I'm a Dolce lush -- I've had it a hundred times. I've paired it every which ways from sideways, and tasted it comparatively many times against Sauternes, which I adore also. [stopping rhapsody now]

          Another one in this vein, though not as exquisite as the Dolce, is Mondavi's Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc. Topaz is another good one, but harder to find. I like Beringer's Nightingale (named not after the bird but after a former winemaker), but it seems lighter in flavor than the Dolce. Grgich Hills makes Violetta, with pronounced apricot flavors, but I find it a bit syrupy and cloying. Just my palate speaking. Mondavi's Moscato d'Oro is a light semi-sweet wine, not without its merits, but I much prefer the Dolce/Sauternes style of dessert wine.

          There are also a few sparkling Moscato wines made here. These are entirely a different taste experience, of course, and so any pairing would reflect that. My favorite is the Moscato D'Andrea from Robert Pecota. I've also enjoyed the Amabile from Louis Martini. I much prefer these to the Italian sparkling moscato, but again, that is my palate.

          As for port, there are a few very good ones made here in Napa and Sonoma, but, obviously, they lack that ineffable Porto quality. Worth enjoying, but unfortunately, they are made in small quantities -- enough to sell in winery tasting rooms, but not enough to distribute nationally.

          best to you, YH...

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Thanks for pointing out the derivation of the "Nightingale." I had experienced it, back when Myron Nightingale was the wine maker. Ed Sbragia has resurrected the name, but I have not had the opportunity to try the newer iteration of it.

            Just had the Violeta with a sweet polenta genoise filled with lemon mascarpone cream and fresh raspberries, and it was wonderful.

            Have not tried (have not even seen) the Robert Pecota, Moscato D'Andrea, but it sounds like I would enjoy it, as well.

            Thanks for the recs,


            1. re: maria lorraine

              A second for Dolce, though it probably doesn't need anymore endorsement.
              I also really like Honig's Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. It's a bit "lighter" than the Dolce, so I tend to get a bit more floral note with the honey and apricot and vanilla flavors of the Dolce.

            2. re: Yaqo Homo

              Very few, compared to 30 years ago! ;^)

          2. Agree with the late harvest zin rec. I quite like Rosenblum's late harvest zin; I haven't tried Bella's. And Rutherford makes a nice zinfandel port, distilled with zinfandel brandy.

            I recently purchased a late harvest Mouvèdre from Cline (in the Bandol style, I suppose) as a gift for someone. I haven't tried it (yet!), but I think it's received good reviews. Pairs really nicely with dark chocolate.

            One of my favourite Cali dessert wines is Ferrari-Carano's late harvest Eldorado Noir Black Muscat. They pair it with chocolate-covered blueberries in their reserve tasting room. I've had other dessert wines paired with these, but this match is near perfect.

            *FYI - I posted about this last find recently on my blog, in case you're looking for more info. I'm not sure if posting the link is a no-no, but it seems relevant here: http://www.gastereas-table.com/2008/0...

            1. YH,

              There are a number of dessert wine producers in California. Personally there are very few, NON-fortified California dessert wines I've had in my life that I'd buy a second time. I find most to be too low in acidity and out-of-balance.

              Joseph Phelps, Chateau St. Jean, and Freemark Abbey have produced some top-notch LH wines from Riesling over the years. Ridge has made some excellent LH Zins, as well as some amazing dessert wines labeled "Zinfandel Essence" over the years.

              Historically, my all-time favorite has always been Louis Martini's Moscato Amabile. However, since the winery was purchased by Gallo, the way this wine is produced now makes it a pale shadow of its once-great self.

              You've gotten some good specific suggestions, but I generally avoid these types of wines made in California. For MY taste, I can find better wines (often for less money) from elsewhere on the planet.

              Just my 2¢ . . . probably worth far less . . . you may keep the change. ;^)

              1. Raymond Vineyard (in Napa) makes a Late Harvest Chardonnay, called Eloquence, that is absolutely delicious. Their notes say it has "Rich flavors of dried apricots, pears and peaches." At our house we refer to it as 'liquid honey'. It runs around $40 for a 375ml bottle, so it's an indulgence.

                1. "The best American late-harvest botrytised wine is probably Dolce, made by Far Niente..."

                  Uh-oh... Maria, you know I normally agree with you, but...

                  While this may be partially just a personal preference for Riesling over Semillon, I cannot put Dolce in the top two US botrytis wines:

                  Eroica Single Berry Select and Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest (which at $30/375ml has to be the single best value in dessert wine on the planet), imo, are the two best that the US has to offer. (Of course, the Eroica is morally offensively expensive...)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: whiner

                    Whiner...nice to see you on the board again...

                    Sure, you can disagree with me...you have such a lovely world palate.

                    Moreover, you've given me a new dessert wine (the Eroica) to try, and I'll again
                    try the Navarro, which I've had a number of times. The first few times I loved it, and thought it an excellent buy, like you. Even so, it never blew up my skirt like the Dolce. I last had the Navarro at the winery about three years ago, and recall being disappointed. I haven't had it since. Perhaps it deserves a another try.

                    Uh oh...Whiner...I just checked where I could find the Eroica near me (Dee Vine Wines in SF) and it's 200 smackers. I see what you mean about it being morally offensive expensive (and I like the ring of that phrase -- think of all the things it applies to!).

                    Maybe instead of the Eroica, I'll head on down to K&L and buy some Sauternes. I usually go international on dessert wines, like Jason, but
                    the Dolce is so near and so dear and there is that skirt-blowing-up thing.

                    Best, M.

                    P.S. I'm so glad I said the best was "probably Dolce."

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      Maria, Bill, Navarro regularly does late harvest wines, but only does the cluster select in certain vintages, so it's possible either you have mixed up the two wines, or some years are amazing and some years are just good for the cluster select.

                      The regular stuff is a fine end to a meal, but to borrow a phrase, it doesn't blow up my skirt. The good stuff is still sitting in the cellar, so hopefully the delayed gratification is worth it.

                      1. re: SteveG

                        I have had several Navarro LH wines, and each was done with subtlety and finesse. Each has offered layers of flavors, unlike some of the US dessert wines from the NE.

                        In case I have not mentioned it up-thread (that is how it goes on older thread, old fuds like me keep posting the same recs.!), Jos Phelps does a very nice one, Eisrébe, but it is not commonly available at retail.


                    2. re: whiner

                      I have re-tried the Navarro Cluster Select (and was just there for the new release)
                      and it's a rockin' dessert wine. Everything that I want. Bought a bunch because
                      I like stickies.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        Hope you purchased the cluster select muscat. They rarely have it, and this year they did.

                    3. Thank you so much for the thorough, passionate and staggeringly useful recommendations.

                      I intend to try some during my upcoming vacation to the Golden State.

                      Maria lorraine has very nearly sold me on Dolce, but I'll look for some late harvest zin as well.


                      1. Last summer, visiting Anderson Valley in Cal., I bought a bottle of late harvest Sauvignon Blanc at Husch. I think it was about $20 for 375 ml. It was lovely, with honey, apricots, and almonds.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: vickib

                          At many wineries, there are some very good dessert wines, but unfortunately, most are available only at the wineries and by mailing lists. The supply eliminates so much of the market. Just like the Meyer Family port-styled wine, available only (to my knowledge) at Silver Oak winery.

                          It was the same with the earlier iteration of the Beringer Nightingale. It was available at the winery, and at a very few restaurants on allocation. I always managed to get six btls. from a fav. sommelier's allotment.



                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Any of the Mr. K. wines from Sine Qua Non are much better than Dolce.

                            Especially the Strawman...........

                            1. re: Strawman

                              Describe them...I know there's something more to your rec than that one of the Mr. K Wines has your name.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                Mr. K wines were created through a partnership between Manfred Krankl and the late Alois Kracher. Manfred makes them in three very different styles.

                                The Nobleman is a botrytis affected chardonnay the Iceman is a cryogenically produced gewertz, and the Strawman is a Semillon done in a Vin de Paille style.

                                If you have a chance to try them you must. Manfred also makes a few very limited TBA styles under the Sine Qua Non label. The SQN branded wines are as rare as hen’s teeth. If you aren’t on the list or willing to sell a small healthy child to buy one, they are a bit out of reach.

                                I prefer the Strawman to the other two varieties because it seems to have a little brighter acidity. I just looked up Parker's rating for the 2004. 9.9% alcohol, 310 grams/litre residual sugar, and 7.6 grams/litre acidity. 100 points.

                                1. re: Strawman

                                  Had the pleasure of tasting all 3 at a charity event in Westwood, CA a few years ago. SQN was pouring Syrah, I think, and my friends said to hang around near their booth towards the end of the event as that was when they usually poured the dessert wines. These puppies go for $125 - $175 per 375ml, so they're not my everyday drink of choice but...... WOW!!!!!!!! I think I remember favoring Nobleman and Strawman, but all 3 were amazing. Whatever they were pouring lasted all of about 10 minutes but got me to sign up for their mailing list. Every year I get a post card that tells me what they're shipping and apologizing for the fact that they can't ship me anything. Such is the world of high-end allocation lists.

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    Thanks to you both Strawman and Midlife. I read a few more reviews that also pronounced these wines excellent, though very difficult to acquire. I look forward to the rare day when I'll be able to taste one of the Mr. K wines, in a resto or offered from a private collection.

                                    So, Strawman and Midlife...both for our OP and for me...which
                                    readily accessible California botrytised wine is your favorite? I believe Yaqo Homo, our OP, is in Manhattan/Brooklyn.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      I'd rather have Phelps Eisrebe than all of the easily accessible wines mentioned.

                                      1. re: Strawman

                                        Palates are so diverse! You see, the Eisrebe doesn't "do it" for me at all -- I much prefer the flavors of a botrytised wine to that of an ice wine (or "cryo-ed" wine).

                                        However, I have great respect for Joseph Phelps Winery, and for Craig Williams, their winemaker. I have, on many occasions, enjoyed their Le Mistral, Pastiche, and Syrah. Less frequently, their Insignia. The Pastiche, with a good chill, is especially good in the summer.

                                        So from your Mr. K recs above, I would probably prefer The Nobleman to the cryo-ed Gewurtz Iceman. And your post caused me to read more about the Vin de Paille method, which seems similar to that used to make passito. I love the diversity of the Mr. K. dessert wine styles, and hope to try them one day. Thanks very much for the leads. Some day, I'll see the Mr. K. wines on some resto wine list or in someone's cellar, and I'll think of you.

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          Au contraire....... I love botrytised wines. I have more Sauternes/Barsac in my cellar than I do red Bordeaux.

                                          I simply don't think the american examples mentioned measure up. I've had the Violetta and the Navarro. I don't care much for late harvest zinfandels. Too flabby. I'd just as soon pay a lot less for a Doisy Vedrines.

                                          This thread seemed to be about what are the "best" american dessert wines. It's the Mr. K's without question. IMO.

                                          1. re: Strawman

                                            "Au contraire....... I love botrytised wines"

                                            You misread and/or misunderstood. Your fondness for Mr. K "The Nobleman" botrytised wine was evident.

                                            I didn't say that you didn't love botrytised wines -- please re-read carefully if you think I said that -- only that the Eisrebe wasn't a botrytised wine.

                                    2. re: Midlife

                                      One thought- for those that can't quite afford the Mr.K line, you might seek out Austrian dessert wines (where Krankl & Kracher hail/hailed from) There are some excellent values there still (check out the latest Wine Spectator), but I'd recommend to grab now because as the whole dollar-to-euro thing worsens, they'll be getting more expensive.

                                      Which of course then brings us back to this thread: California (or Oregon or Washington) dessert wines. As has been mentioned, most wineries have one in some years. Even Mondavi. Just keep an eye out and an ear to the ground.

                                      My final advice would be to avoid "icewines" from the west coast that have been made by putting the grapes into commercial freezers.

                          2. I'm not sure how widely available it is, but Ravenswood makes a LH Gewurztraminer that is quite tasty. We bought it at the winery and I have never seen it here in Vermont. John Anthony makes a LH Sauvignon Blanc that we purchased but haven't opened yet (a bit pricey at $55 fro 375ml). If it is anything like the rest of their line up (Syrah, Cabernet, and Sauvignon Blanc) then it will be quite a treat.

                            1. OMG!!!

                              HOW could I have forgotten?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

                              Martinelli Muscat Alexandria Jackass Hill

                              Awesome stuff!

                              Maria, to be honest, I haven't had an of the more recent vintages of the Navarro, so you could be right that it has gone downhill...

                              And, yes, $200/375ml for the Eroica is lunacy -- I've only had it at the generosity of friends ;-)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: whiner

                                I WAS a big fan of Navarro, but will agree that something has changed, and not for the better. Their LH GW was a highlight, 10 years ago, but not so much now. Maybe it's been the desserts, with which it has been served. All of these were by our hosts, so I am not sure what the differences/problems were. Maybe I need to re-visit these wines and do a pairing for myself. Maybe I was infatuated, by some great pariings, and the bloom is just off my rose?

                                At US$200/.375, I expect something that matches the better GR Eiseweins, or a very good vintage Sauternes. At that price-point, I'd expect to be really impressed.


                              2. One that is not mentioned that is a favorite of ours are Tobin James. His late harvest zin's are to die for! Sure, a bit over the top and fruit forward, but come on, it's a dessert wine! YUM! -mJ

                                1. A few of my favorite California Dessert wines, a couple of which are listed elsewhere in the post.

                                  Bonny Doon (Santa Cruz) -- their Raspberry flavored one. Just had it for the first time last night.

                                  Quady Winery (Madera) -- Elysium (berry flavored) and Essensia (orange flavored)

                                  Stuart Vineyards (Temecula) -- Zinfandel Port

                                  Ferrari-Carano (Sonoma/Dry Creek) -- Eldorado Noir

                                  Trentadue (Sonoma/Healdsburg) -- Chocolate Amore

                                  Mondavi (Napa) -- Moscato d'Oro

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: dmsclemson

                                    I don't know why, but everyone's recommended the Bonny Doon Framboise, but it doesn't do much for me. Kind of tastes syrupy.

                                    Either find a small-small batch berry wine and get it locally (best wine I've ever had: a blackberry up in WA made in tiny batches--I couldn't remember the name in a million years, either), or try for a Moscato. Even Texas moscatos aren't that bad.

                                    1. re: puffalumps

                                      Let's just say that Randall Grahm has done better, in the past. I am with you. Though they were done with his cryo process, other wines were much, much more interesting, at least to me.


                                  2. My favorite wines in the world are some of the ones you describe, YH in your OP.

                                    In my opinion, there are reasons why you don't recall drinking or ordering dessert wine from the state of California, and most of the reason why is that they just aren't "that good". Not that they aren't any good at all (my wine palate is relative depending on the state of my contacts and my finances and when the last time I had vino was), but why buy them when you can get the ones you list.

                                    I sample one from time to time, some have been "decent", but spend my money on them a second time I will not.

                                    1. In Amador, I would recommend the Muscat a petits grains of Terre Rouge
                                      (my wife loves this stuff) and the C. G. di Arie Kelson Creek Tawny and
                                      Ruby ports, which are produced from traditional portuguese varieties.
                                      C. G. di Arie bought out Kelson Creek last year but kept the brand
                                      name which was well established (at least locally). Note however that at
                                      $30 per half bottle, the Tawny is rather pricy.

                                      1. Icewines made by Stratus in Canada or some of their other wines, maybe some Madeira they can be very sweet. Maybe a high quality Mead would be good too very sweet.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: TheDewster

                                          To date, I have probably done a dozen trade tastings of CA (Canadian) Icewines, and have yet to find one that I would buy. This probably encompasses 200 wines of various vintages. Each seems very one-dimensional, and I find the majority to be cloying. Now, as I am a fan of dessert wines, from around the globe, it's not that I do not like sweet wines, but that those many, that I have tasted, just do not have the character, and regardless of US retail price.

                                          Have I tried them all? Probably not even close, as I am always at the mercy of the various distributors, so only taste, what they have.


                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            The Parting Glass, a Late Harvest Semillon, from Owen Roe is very enjoyable. About $25 / 375ml.

                                            1. re: TonyO


                                              That is a new one to me. I will keep my eyes out for it.



                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                              Deborah's Delight, a blend of Orange Muscat and Viognier from Justin Winery in Paso Robles is really enjoyable. On their site it says $50 /375ml. but I know I didn't pay anywhere near that much at the winery last summer.

                                          2. I have tasted a bottle of Chateau St. Jean - Sauvignon D'Or ( 35.3 TBA ) select late harvest, 1982, thats better than Barsacs or Sauternes like Coutet, Climens, Giuraud of about the same age!

                                            13 Replies
                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              "35.3 TBA"??? Do you mean 35.3 Brix at harvest? 35.3% r.s.?

                                              Personally, back in the day when Dick Arrowood was the winemaker, I always thought his LH/SLH Rieslings were better than his LH Sauvignon Blancs, which I always found a bit low in acid for my taste. But that's just me . . .

                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                Hey zin1953 I have 80, 82 and 2002 Y 'Quem andrecommendations for each appreciated. How will they compare with OREMUS TOKAJI ESZENCIA 2000 which I love? As a side note I opened a Vega-Sicilia Unico 1999 and loved it but friends say it is too young yet opinions?

                                                1. re: TheDewster

                                                  Given the quality of the vintages, I would think that the 2000 Oremus Tokaji Eszencia will be superior to these three specific vintages of Château d'Yquem.

                                                  As for the Vega-Sicilia, there is a significant distinction between the "optimum" age of a wine, and when *you* (or anyone) prefers to drink it. On paper, I'd say the 1999 is just about right -- again, given the quality of the vintage . . . .

                                                  1. re: TheDewster

                                                    TheDewster, I am always reluctant to tell someone else what to do with THEIR $400 bottle of wine, but I just opened a Vega-Sicilia Unico 1999 and loved it as well. Your post made me curious about the drinking window of these wines so I did a little research. I am not suprised to find that as in all things wine-related the firmly held opinions or this wine's drinking window are all over the place. NY Times says wait 20 years. Parker says now through 2030 and Wine Spectator says now through 2014!

                                                    I personally think this great winery holds the wine for almost a decade so they can release it when it is ready to drink. My impression is it will last decades, but will it get better, who knows?

                                                  2. re: zin1953

                                                    zin1953 I am very happy to report the Late Harvest Riesling program at Arrowood is alive and very well. They currently have 4 available for sale and usually have some older vintages stashed for inquiring minds.

                                                    The 2005 Late Harvest White Riesling, Alexander Valley at about $21 is a real value. I loved it's pear and spice flavors. Parker gave it a 91

                                                    The 2005 Special Select Late Harvest White Riesling, Hoot Owl Creek Vineyards got a 90 from Tanzer and a 95 from Parker and I would be it right in the middle. $35-ish

                                                    The 2007 Select Late Harvest White Riesling, Saralee's Vineyard is also exception and I agree with Parker's 92 , also 35-ish

                                                    I have not tasted or seen a review on the 2008 Special Select Late Harvest White Riesling, Saralee's Vineyard, but with Arrowood's track record I bet it's great as well.

                                                    1. re: MyPrivateSommelier

                                                      Thank you for the comments gentlemen still would like to know what year to open the 80, 82 and 2002 d'Yquem. Wish I'd bought the 2001 d'Yquem its rated higher but the price was much more. The two bottles from the 80's I bought from a friend who developed Type 2 diabetes so no control over the vintage. The Oremus will be drunk this New Years unless you think it needs more time. The Vega goes down the hatch during a PD day at a steak house in June. Come on summer!

                                                      1. re: TheDewster

                                                        The Dewster, I feel very comfortable that the 1980 has at least 20 more years, and the 1982 a decade or so. Both both wines should be right at their peak, so you dont need to wait another day. I suggest you fire up the foie gras, and enjoy the 1982 whever the mood stikes you.

                                                        The 2001 is a different beast all together. I am sure the consenus is that this vintage will rival the greatest of all time. It is so complex, unctuous, and has such great structure and balance, it might need another 10 years to completely fulfill all its promise. One thing for sure, you really dont need to hurry on this one. It is going to be alive and well at the turn of the century, if someone doesn't drink it before then.

                                                        1. re: TheDewster

                                                          Hmmmm . . . without trying to be flip about it, the best time to open the bottle is when you WANT to, not when someone else TELLS you to . . . . I mean, not even the LAPD's infamous SWAT team will kick in your front door for opening a wine tonight rather than in five years . . . .

                                                          That said, in terms of "getting better with age," a) that is an appreciation not everyone will agree with (see below), and b) I'm not convinced any of these vintages will continue to improve with added bottle age. They should "hold," because of their sweetness, but I would be surprised if any significant improvement was yet to come. This all depends, of course, upon storage conditions and the like. Michael may be right about 10 and 20 years, respectively, but I wouldn't go out that far personally.

                                                          An aside about "improving with age": stereotypically, the Brits love "old" Champagne, while Americans generally are in the "drink it now" camp. Aged Champagnes can be delightful, but they are VERY DIFFERENT WINES than Champagnes newly released -- less effervescent, more "nutty" in character, richer perhaps and more subtle, but often lower in acidity, lacking in freshness, and more mature in in flavor. (Clearly this doesn't apply to everyone; it's a stereotype.) After 35+ years in the wine trade, I find that, while I appreciate old Champagnes (say 10-20 years AFTER dégorgement), and generally dislike "newly released" Champagnes, I prefer them with only some time in my own cellar -- say 3-5 years, depending upon the specific wine.

                                                          In other words, there is no single way to enjoy a wine . . . some love Sauternes in its youth, some in middle age, and some only when it's fully mature and nearly mahogany in color. All are correct IF that is how they prefer to drink them!


                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              Ok so I won't worry about any of them and drink them when the time feels right. Thanks to all contributors :)

                                                        2. re: zin1953

                                                          Its 35.3 Brix at harvest. Composition is 59% Sauvignon Blancs and 41% Semillion. Colour is darker than the 1975 D'Yquem!!

                                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                                            Yeah, I thought you meant Brix, rather than "TBA," but if it's darkening significantly, I'd be nervous . . .

                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              TBA was my personal note that I made in my tasting note comparing the wine sweetness to a German TBA. Though colour was dark it was still drinking nicely!

                                                      2. Lot18 (lot18.com) currently has 2001 Robert Mondavi Winery Botrytis 375mL Pair for $55. I can't speak for that wine but the description is:

                                                        "The sweet, opulent flavors unfold into impossibly decadent layers of honeyed apricot, ripe guava, citrus, orange blossom and crème brûlée. There is a wonderful note of toasted Tahitian vanilla and spice from an extended period of barrel fermentation in French Oak. This is a fantastic pairing for the simplest of foods such as fresh summer fruits with honey, to the richest and most decadent of crème brûlées, flans and crème carmels."

                                                        I'm a big fan of lot18.