The Best of the Best 2003: Domestic White Wines - Beringer 1998 Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc Nightingale Botrytized Private Reserve

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While the Sauternes and Barsacs continue to reign supreme over the kingdom of dessert wines, U.S. winemakers are demonstrating a growing mastery of this age-old technique by which the noble rot, botrytis, transforms the Sémillon grape into a fantastic ambrosia that delights palate and imagination. The best among these new-world Sémillons to be released in the past year is the Beringer 1998 Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc Nightingale Botrytized Private Reserve. Honeyed, with layers of apricot and luscious vanilla balanced by a hint of cigar box and wood, the 1998 vintage delivers a rewarding sensory experience.

Beringer Vineyards, 707.963.7115, www.beringer.com; $30 (375ml)

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