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Oct 1, 2008 02:04 PM

Looking for sweeter wines...

I will be visiting Napa at the end of the month with my boyfriend and while I like all types of wine he prefers sweeter wines like Riesling. Can someone please let me know what wineries specialize in sweeter wines and are great for visiting. We also enjoy Pino Grigios as well.
Thank you....

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  1. Does someone up there still make a good muscato?

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      Robert Mondavi Winery has a Moscato d'Oro, as does Louis Martini - Moscato Amabile only available at the winery..
      Beringer has the Nightengale series of Sauterne style wines and a late harvest Reisling.

    2. No question - you *must* go to Praeger Port Works; on the main road behind Dean and Deluca -- but hidden behind a bunch of bushes -- just before Sutter Home. You will want to try the Sweet Claire which is a Late Harvest Riesling to-die-for...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Carrie 218

        Here's a short article on Napa rieslings. I assume you are looking for table wine, as opposed to desert wine?

        1. re: Calvinist

          Funny, I assumed, when sweet was mentioned dessert wine Auslese, Eiswein, Beerenauslese, or Trockenbeerenauslese.

          1. re: wolfe

            Wolfe, that was my thought as well -- hence the Praeger suggestion. If heading to Sonoma, than Arrowood is a definite must-visit as well; their Late Harvest Rieslings are made the style that would warrant the TBA classification.

      2. Hi all. There are sweet wines out there but beware- I think it's misleading to suggest that a "late harvest" wine assures quality or intention; many late harvest wines are produced because the grapes weren't picked at the optimum time for a dry wine or there was problems with the fermentation.

        Many wineries make ports. If your boyfriend likes sweet rieslings, stick to the German ones; they almost always have the acidity to complment the sweetness. Most wineries that I've found make more of a ruby port-style (as opposed to Tawny style). There are many good producers.

        Pinot Grigios on the other hand are dry white wines. If you both like P.G.'s, look for pinot gris (same varietal, French name), pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc, or even more obscure varietals like albarino. They can share similar flavor profiles depending on where they're from and the producer.

        I enjoy Sonoma County more for these types of wines. Napa tends to focus more on chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Sonoma has a cooler climate that lends itself more to higher acidity whites that I really enjoy. Hope this helps a little...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sharpish

          Good points. I think a lot of people confuse "fruity" with "sweet" -- a wine with a strong fruit character (no oak, not minerally) can be perceived as sweet when it has little or no residual sugar. So to clarify, do you want sweet wines, or do you want dry-but-fruity/aromatic wines? Or both?

        2. Ruth Lafler makes a good point above.

          Fruity wines are often perceived as sweet, even though they technically not sweet -- they're dry (fermented till all the sugar in the grape juice has been gobbled up.) In contrast to dry wine, a sweet wine actually has sugar left in the grape juice, either a small amount of residual sugar, like the off-dry Riesling, or the higher sugar level that's found in a late-harvest wine, Sauternes-style wine (my personal favorite), or port.

          So, what I would urge, that is if you're interested, is to taste some of the very fruity Napa Valley wines, and see if it is fruitiness, rather than sweetness, that you're really seeking. Just a thought.

          Speaking of off-dry, slightly sweet Riesling...
          There isn't much Riesling grown in the entire state of California, not much in Sonoma County either (only in pockets near Freestone and the Russian River Valley), and very little in Napa Valley. Which isn't to say it can't be found.

          I know of only one off-dry Riesling in Napa Valley. That's made by Casa Nuestra,
          and I have not tried it. There are several Rieslings made here that are lovely, but they are not
          off-dry, and perhaps don't have the sweetness level you're seeking. They do, however, have *wonderful* fruit, and so the slight perception of sweetness:
          Stony Hill
          Smith Madrone.

          Some of the big Napa Valley "butterball" Chardonnays have genuine sweetness -- residual sugar -- in them, if you care for that style of wine. Rombauer and Frank Family are two, but there are others as well.

          Napa Valley is well known for its truly sweet, excellent dessert wines:
          Sauternes-style, late-harvest wines:
          Dolce, Far Niente Winery, at the top -- a real treat
          Moscato d’Oro — Robert Mondavi
          Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis -- Robert Mondavi
          Nightingale — Beringer
          Semillion Late-Harvest — Swanson
          Edelwein -- Freemark Abbey
          Eisrebe -- Joseph Phelps Winery

          Sparkling -- these are delightful:
          Moscato Amabile — Louis Martini
          Moscato d’Andrea — Robert Pecota

          Zinfandel Port, Charles Krug Winery, probably the best wine they make

          Not a fan of Violetta at Grgich Hills, or the Prager Ports, but I haven't tried Prager's Sweet Claire Riesling.

          Have a lovely time. This month is a nice time to visit.