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Dessert Wines

R.A. Harrison Family Cellars 2009 Nobility

While at Beringer Vineyards, Roger Harrison honored the legacy of two of Napa’s most respected winemakers, Myron and Alice Nightingale, by helping craft the winery’s much-admired late-harvest dessert wine, Nightingale, a blend of botrytized Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Recently he left Beringer to focus his talents on one of the region’s rarest offerings, a dessert wine made with white varietals infected with natural Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot. The 2009 Nobility opens to aromas of honey, brown sugar, and dried fig. A wine like this is elevated in stature when the acidity tempers the residual sugar, giving rise to a breathtaking balance. The wine hangs on the palate softly and finishes richly—without the coarseness of oak that hampers lesser wines made in this style. ($75 per 375 mL bottle)

Swanson Vineyards 2014 Angelica Mission

For a number of years, Swanson Vineyards was one of the few wineries in Napa to employ a dedicated dessert-wine maker. The winery’s Angelica is a rare offering sourced from one of the United States’ oldest Mission grape vineyards, which was first planted in 1856. This nonvintage wine aged for 10 years in barrel before being bottled in December 2014, and its alluring profile will certainly satisfy hedonistic drinkers in search of rich, sweet flavors. The amply layered bouquet carries aromas of caramel, toffee, molasses, prune, and fig, inviting the imbiber to partake. Rounded, creamy, and smooth, Angelica finishes on a fine vanilla note—pure opulence on the palate. Few wines are better suited for sipping on a frosty winter night before the fire. ($150)