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What's your favorite affordable, California-produced dessert wine?

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  1. My favorites tend to be available only at the wineries and often sell out within a month or two of release.

    Navarro still has some 2006 Cluster Select Late Harvest Gew├╝rztraminer.

    http://www.navarrowine.com/shop/produ...

    13 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I realize I was (intentionally) vague when I said "affordable", but I was kinda hoping for something a little cheaper than $40 for375mL.

      And while we're at it, maybe add to the original post, discuss both winery-only ones, as well as ones available in retail stores.

      1. re: vulber

        How about Quady Essencia available at Bevmo, about $16/750ml.

        1. re: wolfe

          Yeah, I LOVE Navarro, but Quady makes some great wines as well.
          Both the Elysium (Black Muscat) and the Essensia (Orange Muscat) are delicious and affordable. At the Alameda Meals on Wheels event, the Elysium was gone way before the Essensia which they were serving ice cold. Very refreshing!

          1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

            Same price $16, $12 for the split.

            1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

              Quady also makes low alcohol versions (different fermentation process) of the black and orange muscat, called Electra and Red Electra. They're delicious and not as heavy.

              1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                Third the Essensia.

                1. re: cookie monster

                  +4 and +5, as stated, serve well chilled

                  1. re: PolarBear

                    Quady is also a nice place to taste -- if you get tired of the overly-touristy wineries of the more famous wine regions of California, you might want to check out the Madera Country Wine Trail. A lot of the producers in that area do dessert wines (because of the climate and the varieties they grow there), the tasting rooms are not crowded, and the prices are much lower.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Madera Wine Trail
                      http://www.maderawinetrail.com/

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Drank a '85 Riesling CSLH Riesling last week, Oh My. Still feel Navarro is the king of the hill out there.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Chateau St. Jean also made some great age-worthy late harvests in those days. I think they discontinued them some years ago.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Still have a half case of the '82's and yes they are very worthy as well.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Those were gorgeous little wines! Back when K-J was a nice little winery located in Lake County, they made a Sauternes-like number called Grand Finale (as well as some superb single vineyard Zins).

            2. Navarro Cluster Select Gewurz (and the Cluster Select Riesling is pretty cool, too)

              1. A Muscat Cannelli from Orfila in So. CA plays excellent with desserts and cheeses. Nice hints of peach, apricot and not too sweet. Also, ice wines do well in the category.

                2 Replies
                1. re: wolfe

                  Randall Grahm has been known to freeze his own, hence "Vin de Glaciere."

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Speaking of, it's fairly respectable for about $17. There's fairly balanced acidity and nice peachy-honey notes.

                2. On the affordable side, at the recommendation of someone on the SF board I picked up a bottle of Belo Muscat Gris, which according to the website is slightly fortified with muscat brandy. It has an almost sherry-like nuttiness combined with light orange and apricot from the muscat. I don't know what it sells for retail,. but at the under $5 Grocery Outlet price, I'm going to see if I can get some more. http://www.belowine.com/wines.html

                  1. Here's a thread for more opinions.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/516908

                    1. Just picked up a bottle of 2004 Unti grenache doux 500 ml for $20 that was pretty tasty at the winery.

                      1. Zero retail distribution, but there's a small winery (in the Russian River area) called Harvest Moon, that makes really nice LH Zin and Gewurz 'ice-style' wine. Nice place to visit too.

                        http://harvestmoonwinery.com/store/ot...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Midlife

                          That's the bite with California dessert wines -- zero (or near zero) distribution.

                        2. For very inexpensive, Rutherford Ranch Winery has a Muscat Canelli 375mL that runs $12 or so. I don't see it on the website so it must be sold at the winery only.