There’s a reason why you fall in love with someone after a meal and not before. You’re simply jumping in too quickly if it happens before the main dish is served, and you’re destined for a broken heart. Get to know the person first, as your mother always said.
Choosing to have a dessert wine after a meal instead of a flourless chocolate or apple crumble cake à la mode is a lost art. If the person across from you turns out to be “the one,” I suppose there’s something romantic to dipping into the same scoop of ice cream with your spoons—but wouldn’t you rather seal the deal with extended post-meal conversation with a luscious, sweetly decadent and immersively sensual glass of dessert wine? It might be said that the art of having dessert wine became lost at the same time the art of courtship was lost to an entire generation. In the age of Tinder, dessert wines don’t have a chance.
For the faithful, and old-fashioned hopeless romantics at heart, Sweet Clementine from CLOS SOLÈNE, located in Paso Robles, California, is a fortified dessert wine made in tribute to a style of wine that winemaker Guillaume Fabre experienced growing up in the southern Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. That style of dessert wine which made such an impact on the winemaker was from the Banyuls AOC—not often seen on this side of the North Atlantic.
Sweet Clementine, 2014 vintage, is 97% Grenache-based, the rest Syrah, and stands at 15.8% ABV. The robustly aromatic bouquet of the wine tells you what you need to know. It’s a sensuous mélange of blackberry, kirsch, plum, prune, fig and lavender notes that simply invites you to explore deeper into the wine’s personality. Its texture is super silky and lightly viscous—caressing the palate with the sweetness of dried black cherry. What knocks you over is the very vibrant acidity on the finish and superfine tannins that go on and on forever like endless love (cue the Lionel Ritchie & Diana Ross duet).
Winemaker Fabre has beautifully crafted a loving, and exquisitely delicious, tribute to his roots. Sweet Clementine is one of California’s greatest dessert wines. Believe in love. –J.M.