Discover Kendall-Jackson Dessert Wine

Karen Frazier
Glass of ruby port

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, a winery located in Santa Rosa, California, is primarily known for their top-selling Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay and other dry varietal wines, but did you know they also make two dessert wines? The sweet wines from Kendall-Jackson include a Grand Reserve late harvest Chardonnay and a limited edition ruby port-style red wine called Piner Hills Estate Dessert Wine.

Grand Reserve Monterey County Late Harvest Chardonnay

Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Monterey County Late Harvest Chardonnay is a smooth and sweet dessert wine made from Chardonnay grapes grown in Arroyo Seco in Monterey County. The wine is relatively low in alcohol - around 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) with a residual sugar (RS) of 13.8g/100mL. Grapes are harvested in November to December, which is late in the harvest season. This late harvest of the Chardonnay grapes allow the sugars to develop, which results in a sweet white wine with a high sugar content. A nice acidity keeps the resulting wine from being too sweet, however. The grapes are also infected with botrytis, also known as "noble rot," which adds complexity and honey characteristics to the finished wine. Older versions of this wine were labeled Grand Finale; Kendall-Jackson changed the name recently.

Awards and Ratings

Various vintages of this wine have won awards. For example, the 2006 vintage earned Double Gold and the 2009 San Francisco International Wine Competition and Bronze at the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The wine has not been rated by any wine experts, although it is generally well-liked by consumers, receiving around four out of five stars in reviews.

Tasting Notes

While the flavors may vary slightly from vintage to vintage, the winemaker states the wine has orange blossom and other floral notes as well as a nice, spicy, cinnamon and clove aroma and flavor with hints of citrus.

Cost and Where to Buy

Cost depends on the vintage and age of the wine. However, recent vintages cost about $20 for a 375 mL bottle. You may be able to purchase it from the Kendall-Jackson website, but it sells out quickly. You can also find various shops that have it in the United States on wine-searcher and Vivino has several vintages available.

Food Pairing

This wine is a dessert by itself, or you can enjoy it with fruits such as pears or figs, or with a dessert such as crème brûlée.

Grand Reserve Piner Hills Estate Dessert Wine

Fans of ruby Port may enjoy the Kendall-Jackson Piner Hills Estate Dessert Wine. The grapes used in this fortified Port-style wine come from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California. Grapes used include Tinta Cão, Alcante Bouschet, Tinta Madeira, Petite Sirah, Touriga, and Zinfandel, and the wine is made in limited release of about 1,800 bottles, which were bottled in 2015. The wines are aged in French oak for 29 months and because this is a fortified wine, it is high in alcohol at 20 percent ABV.

Awards and Ratings

Due to its limited bottling and availability, this wine has garnered no ratings or awards.

Tasting Notes

Kendall-Jackson notes this limited bottling has aromas of strawberries and roses with surprising hints of black pepper and espresso in a wine that is built to age.

Cost and Where to Buy

Although this is a limited release, it's still available on the Kendall-Jackson website or at the winery in Santa Rosa. Cost is $35 for a 750 mL bottle, and availability is very limited.

Food Pairing

Port makes an excellent dessert on its own, or you can pair it with chocolate desserts such as molten lava cake or a nice piece of dark chocolate.

Dessert Wines From Kendall-Jackson

While Kendall-Jackson doesn't have a large selection of dessert wines on offer, their Late Harvest Chardonnay is a regular part of their vintage wine lineup. Likewise, they occasionally bottle limited releases such as the Piner Hills Estate Dessert wine, although with limited bottling, it's best to buy it when you find it. These sweet dessert wines make an excellent way to finish a meal.

Discover Kendall-Jackson Dessert Wine