For most of my life my family has teased me that I didn’t like dessert. I would always be the one at the birthday parties having another sandwich while the other kids were getting their diabetic fix munching on cake made more of icing that cake. With time I learned that there were some desserts I enjoyed and for my birthday I usually asked for angel food cake with fresh berries, though most often the berries were all that made it into my mouth!
I don’t think it was till college that I found that when chocolate was made with more than 70% cocoa it could become palatable. It was also then that I started to learn that lots of cultures used cheese as a finisher to a meal. Sounded good to me. In all honesty I can’t tell you for sure when dessert wine made it on to my radar, but I do know that once we were introduced, the romance went out of control.
Most people think of dessert wines as sticky, and syrupy without character, mainly just sugar in a bottle. To them I say, “yeah sure that’s right”, let they learn the secret and my stashes start to run low. On the other hand those that drink dessert wines or “stickies” (an affectionate nickname for the lot of them) know that when made right these wines are alive with acidity and sugar that dance in your mouth, leaving flavors that linger for what seems like a lifetime. Put them with cheese, the stinkier the better, and you have a symphony of culinary decadence.
Writing a Blog about Spain and Portugal works out in my favor when it comes to indulging my sweet tooth, since both hold claim to some of the worlds best sweet wines: Port, Madeira, Sherry (PX), and even some examples of Botrytis effected wines all can be found on this wonderful pennisula. Today I’m posting my notes on a new favorite: 2003 Alvear Montilla-Moriles PX de Añada, who back in June was given a 94pt rating by Robert Parker. What I’m also doing is posting two of my notes spanning a 7 month period. What these notes don’t show so much is how the wine changes during those 7 months in bottle, but rather how I’ve changed. When I wrote the first note, it was my first experience with PX, and when the second note was written I can safely say i had tried over a dozen other examples of the style. So enjoy the notes and if you get time, pick up a bottle of PX and give it a try.
- 2003 Alvear Montilla-Moriles PX de Añada – Spain, Andalucía, Montilla-Moriles (3/11/2005)
Golden light brown with a viscosity that I have not seen before, granted this is my first PX. Brown sugar with dried apricot and dare I say mango? Maple syrup maybe cherries, peaches baked with cinnamon and a strange ethereal overtone of salt air. Heavy, Heavy, did I mention heavy? Thick like maple syrup with a sweetness that lingers on and on and on and on….Cinnamon, fresh coffee, caramel, baked fruit(both peaches and apricots) and toffee. What I’m not getting is any nuttiness, but maybe a light oak. My mind wants to put nuts into it but my palate says no. Strong acidity throughout and a strange Honeydew flavor that comes through on the finish. Wow…interesting, not one dimensional at all, like many heavy stickies tend to be. I won’t rate this until I have tried more, and while this is on the low end price wise for PX’s I can’t imagine what better tastes like! YUM!
- 2003 Alvear Montilla-Moriles PX de Añada – Spain, Andalucía, Montilla-Moriles (10/24/2005)
Thick burnt caramel color with a viscousity that makes motor oil look delicate. Made from dried grapes the nose of this is full of dried fruits from raisins to prunes to peach or nectarine. Soft nuts and caramel, along with very light wood polish all fill in around the fruits in the nose of this wine. In the mouth this wine sits thick on the palate though what makes me so excited is that fact that there is a ton of acidity helping to keep this wine fresh and alive in the mouth. The finish, well, I started this note on Saturday night and come Monday morning it’s still lingering. As far as the flavors, think caramel, honey, molasses(light), myriad nuts, caramelized peach’s…all of this combined with notes of cinnamon, anise and cloves. The first time I had this it was one of the first PX’s for me. Now that I’ve had many others, this one still is damn close to perfect!
Side note…This wine was paired the last time with Roquefort and while tasting it a new friend of my wife and I’s squirmed a bit at the idea. That is until she tried them together and the grin that spread across her face glowed like a thousand suns. Some of you will know what I mean, but there is nothing truly better than seeing the “light bulb” go off in a new wine lovers mind!
till soon, Ryan Opaz