If you've overlooked sweet wines in the past, it's time to discover the refreshing taste of Kendall-Jackson dessert wine.
In wine country, up in Sonoma County about one hour north of San Francisco in the town of Santa Rosa, is a beautiful chateau that sits just off the 101 freeway. It sits on a vineyard with walnut trees behind it-welcome to Kendall-Jackson Visitor Center.
KJ-Top Selling Wines
Kendall-Jackson is known throughout the country (and world). I'm sure in whatever state you live in, going down the wine aisle in the store there is bound to be some bottle of Kendall-Jackson-aka "KJ"-on the shelf. After all, KJ's Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay has been the best selling chardonnay in the country for a long time running. Not only does KJ make the Vintner's Reserve line (the most popular and recognized of the wines), the company makes plenty of other goodies as well. Some under the Kendall-Jackson label, some under labels owned by Kendall-Jackson (La Crema, Stonestreet, Hartford Family Wines, etc.)
If you go to wineries and do some wine tasting, every once in a while you find a sweet wine or two. In the industry we call them "stickies" because of being "sticky sweet." Not all the wineries produce one, or if they do, they just sell it through the tasting room and not out for distribution. They are a special treat. My latest visit to Kendall-Jackson gave me a wonderful opportunity to taste some stickies.
Before I tell you about the wines, let me just say that sweet wines are not for everyone. Some folks just don't do sweet, and that's fine. Some folks get started in appreciating and drinking wine by being introduced to sweeter stuff (I did). I have heard people say that they don't drink sweet wines anymore because they've "grown past that" and now just do dry wines only. No, no, no! Some of the most exquisite wines in the world are sweet…and some of the most expensive too! Chateau d'Yquem, Port Wine, and German Rieslings can easily cost you $500-$5000 for one bottle, so it's definitely not a novice wine.
That being said, Kendall-Jackson has produced some very tasty, quality late harvest wines of merit. For late harvest, the winery leaves the grapes out on the vine so they dry up, lose the water, and gain sugar levels. If you leave them out long enough you can also attract a rot (called botrytis or "Noble Rot") in the clusters which imparts an apricot honey nectar quality to the wines. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to try late harvest wines, you really should venture out and give it a whirl.
Late Harvest Chardonnay: Kendall-Jackson Dessert Wine
KJ makes a late harvest chardonnay that has won accolades. They do this every year, and it's terrific. The new 2006 is from the Arroyo Seco area of California. WOW! This was a very impressive wine. You don't find many people creating a late harvest out of chardonnay grapes. Usually they are made out of Gewurztraminer and Riesling (for white wines). This wine was pure peach/pear/apricot on the nose. It was one of those wines that you had to keep smelling in the glass because it kept showing more and more components. It was thick, but not too sweet, and the finish of the wine lasted for minutes after the last swallow. This was only sold through the tasting room, so don't bother asking the wine buyer at your favorite store to order it. Enjoy this wine poured over fresh summer peaches, or just by itself slightly chilled on a warm summer evening. Cheers!