Among the sweet wines, often called dessert wines as well, we can choose wines from different wine regions, varieties and production methods. A late harvest wine literally comes from the late harvest. The grapes are cut much later, between May and June in the case of Chile. The reason for this later harvesting is that the grapes could be affected by Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that covers the skin of the grapes and concentrates their flavors.
Several favorable conditions such as humidity and correct temperature must be present to let the botrytis cinerea break out to the grapes. It is one of the “miracles” of nature. That is why many famous denominations, as Sauternes or Tokaj, are located next to the rivers. The humidity caused by the morning fog, plus the warm late summer and early autumn atmosphere, create the perfect conditions for ripening of the grapes and the appearance of the noble botrytis.
But, why the botrytis is so important? Because of its appearance covering and penetrating the grapes, a series of chemical reactions that modify parameters as acidity and sugar are provoked. Thus, inside the berry, begin to form aromas of honey, flowers and tangerines, which next are intensified and perfected by winemaking.
Very important is also the kind of variety. The strain for a late harvest wine should be a one with fine skin, as in the case of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Riesling or Furmint. The most recognized regions for its sweet wines are Tokaj in Hungary, Sauternes and Barsac in France, and Mosel and Rheingau in Germany. But even there, only in exceptional years, wines with noble botrytis can be produced. In most cases, late harvest is made with only a percentage of botrytis, or only with dehydrated grapes. The idea is that clusters can stay on the vine as long as possible, grow slowly, at its own time mature, and concentrate their full aromas and flavors.
The grapes must be hand- picked and selected during several passes, discarding spoiled berries. Late harvest is made and stored in oak barrels. Once bottled it has a golden color and phenomenal aromas and flavors. Through the winemaking process, and its natural properties (high level of sugar is a natural preservative), these wines can be stored in the cellar for years.
Late harvest wines have a common denominator: their appearance and bouquet. In the glass this wine can develop shades of gold, sienna, ocher, tea, beer, amber, saffron, cinnamon and copper. On the nose, it develops different families of fragrances: musk, resin, sandalwood, caramel, toasted almonds, chocolate, milk, linden flowers, acacia, magnolia, blossoming fruit trees, narcissus, jasmine, geranium, honey, nuts, ripe quinces, apricots, pears, peaches, melons, grapes and spices such as vanilla. On the palate, sweet wine is noble fine, and it also has a perfect balance between sweetness, acidity.
In our portfolio you can make some great pairings with two late harvest wines: Frontera Late Harvest Moscatel, a sweet and very aromatic wine; and Casillero del Diablo Late Harvest, elaborated with the Sauvignon Blanc. It is a wine with great acidity of vibrant fruit aromas, with notes of honey, tropical fruits and wild flowers. Each reflects perfectly not only the style of wine, but also the personality of the strain.
Frontera Late Harvest Moscatel is aromatic, full of floral notes, ripe fruits and honey, so it is highly recommended for desserts, especially for the ones based on fruits, like Pavlova or Macedonia salad or just a cake with custard and seasonal fruits. Also consider this sweet wine for spicy and oriental food, such as Chinese or Thai. This pairing will surprise you! The sweetness mitigates the hot spices, resulting in a perfect balance.
Casillero del Diablo Late Harvest on the other hand, comes from Maule Valley and is made from Sauvignon Blanc. It presents notes of tropical fruits, honey and a touch of green aromas. With its complexity and expressive bouquet it is perfect for sweet recipes, like a vanilla cheesecake, crème brûlée and apple strudel. However, one of the phenomenal pairing for this wine is cheese like Gorgonzola or Roquefort. Try it with a smoked cheese too. I would also recommend Casillero del Diablo Late Harvest with crostini with chicken livers pâté or foie gras. These products are characterized by their strong and defined flavors. In these cases, the sweetness and complexity of the late harvest wine are an excellent counterpoint to strong flavors.
I present you a recipe for homemade Tuscan livers pâté. Enjoy it with your late harvest!
Crostini with Tuscan livers pâté
Ingredients for 4 people
- 250g chicken livers
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Half a glass of Cognac or aged Pisco
- Salt and pepper
- 50 g anchovy fillets
- 50 g of capers
- 50 g butter
- A pinch of dried sage
- Warm olive oil and brown the onion.
- Cut the pieces of liver.
- Add liver to the onion and fry for a few minutes
- Pour Cognac and cook in heat until the liquid evaporates.
- Season with salt and pepper, add sage and fry 5 minutes.
- Cool slightly, next, pass all into the blender with anchovies, capers and butter. Reduce everything to a creamy consistency.
- Enter the slices of bread in the oven and then expand on them a thick layer of pâté.