Two Stickies

Hello friends, and apologies to any dentists on the list. It’s sticky-wine day.

I love stickies.

I don’t know why I’m filled with an overarching sense of shame when I say that. Perhaps I can see into my crystal ball around January 1, 2012, when I step onto the scale and vow “no more stickies!” I may well have said something like that on January 1, 2011, but who can remember?

I would encourage you all to join me in this collective selective memory loss, because these wines are fiendishly delicious. For most of the year, it can be difficult to find occasions to share your stickies, but friends, this is the beginning of the holiday season, the most stressful time of the year, when the thought of finishing a long day by pounding a 375ml dessert wine seems less outlandish than during months 1-10. It’s also a time when we gather in large numbers, such that a 375ml sticky can be subdivided into shame-free (or at least shame-light) portions.

We produce a surprising number of dessert wines in Washington. Lots of them are mediocre. Some of them make me wish I had chosen a different profession. And some are sublime:

2008 Forgeron Cellars Late-Harvest Semillon 375ml

This one will look familiar to those of you on the list on November 23, 2010, when we offered it the first time. Imagine my surprise when, nearly a year later, I was offered another sample of this because it’s still available. What a treat to chart the evolution of this Sauternes knockoff (which, like all great knockoffs, is substantially less expensive than the original).

The flavors seem to be moving away from stone fruit and into tropical territory. I got mango, guava, and green papaya, all of it doused in rich caramel and fig paste. The sweetness is moderate here – not over-the-top – and there is a lovely squeeze of key-lime acidity that keeps everything fresh. Really a fine value, and this just keeps getting better. Pair this with a cheese plate and discover your own personal nirvana.

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($14); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2009 Brian Carter Cellars “Opulento” (Port-Style) 375ml

Vintage two of a very exciting new project. We had to severely under-allocate the 2008, as our parcel ended up less than half the size originally anticipated. Fortunately, more vines came into production in 2009, so this should at least last through the holidays this year.

Opulento is as close as to a legitimate Ruby Port as you’re going to find in Washington. The reason is that Brian Carter, industry vet (30+ years in Washington wine) and blender extraordinaire, partnered up with growers at Upland and Lonsesome Spring Vineyard to plant the real-deal Portuguese indigenous varietals. So Opulento, in 2009, is 60% Touriga Nacional, 37% Souzao, and 3% Tinta Cao. Of those raw materials, 81% comes from Upland and the remainder from Lonesome Spring.

Aged for 22 months in French oak (20% new), this was fortified with 190-proof brandy up to a finished alcohol of 19%. Inky-dark, this is a total glass-stainer. Aromatics include kirsch, sweet grape, caramel, and pecan. On the palate, it’s a Ruby ringer: dark chocolate, caramel, nougat, and rich black cherry.

I don’t envision Washington challenging Portugal for world Port dominance any time soon, but as far as curiosities go, this one has serious appeal.

First come first served, up to 12 bottles total (mix and match as you like). Both wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping.

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