Late harvest sauvignon blanc is a popular dessert wine with higher residual sugar than traditional Sauvignon Blanc. Discover more about this sweeter wine’s flavor profile, food pairings, and top bottles.
What Is Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc?
White wines like late harvest Riesling and late harvest sauvignon blanc are harvested later than other wines. By letting the grapes develop on the vine longer, you typically get more concentrated sugars in the grape. Late harvest grape clusters typically produce wine with honeyed flavors, honeyed aromas, and wine that is gold in color (or has a yellow color). When the harvest is well-timed, you have a wine that offers optimal sweetness and nice acidity.
While most late harvest dessert wines are known for their decadent flavors, there is more to them. In the top-notch wines, there are layers of flavors. You may notice aromas of apricot blossom, notes of apricot, honeyed peaches, caramel apple, and white peach. Ideally, the sweetness will be partly offset with a perfect balance of acidity.
Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Food Pairings
Fully appreciating the dense flavors of wine is often more fun when you pair wines with the right food. Here are some foods to try with these famous dessert wines.
Fruit Dessert Dishes
The perfect balance to a sweeter wine is a sweet dish. Experience the layers of flavor in the following dishes:
- Apple pie
- Lemon tart (and lemon curd tart)
- Kiwi Tart
- Strawberry Tart
There’s one beautiful wine-food dessert pairing you may be wondering about: what about chocolate? Pairing wine – especially celebratory wine – with chocolate is tough. To get started, see my guide to wine chocolate pairing.
Main Course Options
A standard bottle of late-harvest Sauv Blanc is more challenging to match with the main course. Your best bet is to have a wine glass with a chicken dish. This food wine pairing combination relies on the wine’s firm acidity.
Popular Sauvignon Blanc Wine Bottles
The following late harvest wines will give you a starting point. While I considered affordability in creating this list, the cheapest wines are not the focus. Instead, we’re seeking wines that balance sweetness with other tastes like acidity and alcohol content.
Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc
Produced in a single vineyard in Knights Valley, this Sonoma County late harvest white wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The flavor profile includes citrus, lemon, brown sugar, and baking spics. Harvested in October, the wine is relatively sweet (243 grams of sugar per liter). The wine has 12% alcohol ABV.
Giesen Sauvignon Blanc
Don’t’ overlook New Zealand when it comes to seeking out legendary dessert wines. The Giesen Sauvignon Blanc (late harvest) has earned over 20 gold metals. The complex wine comes from the Alma St Vineyard. The wine is fermented in a large German oak barrel. With 10.5% alcohol content, this dessert wine is sold in 375 ML bottle size (i.e., half the size of a standard wine bottle).
John Anthony Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
This Napa Valley white wine sources wine grapes from the Church Vineyard. This exceptional wine may be more challenging to find, though. The winemaker has only produced it four times since John Anthony Vineyards started in 2003. The elevated acidity in the bottle means that the wine will keep for a more extended period.
How To Plan A Decadent Wine Tasting With Sauvignon Blanc
One of the best ways to learn wine in the wine business is to taste many different wines. While a restaurant wine list may not offer every Sauvignon Blanc bottle listed here, you can compare them at home. Use
Step 1: Pick A Traditional Sauv Blanc Bottle
Starting with a traditional Sauvignon Blanc bottle is the best way to start. If you’re on a budget, start with the big names like Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (arguably the largest wine producer in New Zealand). The Kim Crawford Sauv Blanc offers passionfruit notes and citrus notes. The
Prefer to start with an American wine? Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is another excellent choice. In addition, you may want to try Merry Edwards Winery, which produces Sauv Blanc in the Russian River Valley.
Once you have two bottles of traditional Sauv Blanc wines with different qualities (e.g., racy acidity and delicate flavors), you can choose a sweet wine.
Step 2: Choose Your Contrasting Sauvignon Blanc
Enjoying a traditional Sauvignon Blanc with dinner is a great choice. As you move to dessert, open your late harvest bottle. Most people usually drink dry wine, so it is best to start with a small serving. If you have port wine glasses, you can use those. Otherwise, start by pouring one or two ounces into the glass.
Step 3: Discuss Which Sauvignon Blanc You Enjoyed
A big part of wine appreciation is reflection and discussion. So, take a few minutes to reflect on what you liked in each wine. Did you taste a hint of apricot? What did you think about the acidity? Most important of all, which wine did you like the most and the least? Writing down a quick note on your phone (including taking a photo of the wine label) is one of the best ways to explore your wine preferences.