2012 Dolce Mio Figlio
Since our first harvest of 1997 every wine we’ve made has been a dry red table wine; even those few rosés were dark, sturdy and dry enough to qualify for that description. Enter the newest member of the Betz Family portfolio: Dolce Mio Figlio, a sweet port-like dessert wine.
So much has been written already about the splendid 2012 vintage in Washington, one of my personal top five harvests in the past 40 years. In addition to great fruit across the board, the vintage provided a chance to branch out with some spicy, special Syrah. The Syrah from Dick Boushey’s Vineyard in mid-Yakima Valley (we’ve farmed the same block since 2000) was extraordinary, deeply colored, and thick skinned and jammed with spicy black fruit character, just the sort of material that begged for toying with.
We took a small portion of that fruit and made a sweet wine using a centuries-old method of fortifying fermenting juice to create a “vin doux naturel”, a “naturally sweet wine”. Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Beaumes de Venise and the most famous of the genre, Port, are vin doux naturel.
Grapes destined for vin doux naturel begin life as other red wines do: sorted, crushed and skins/juice/seeds combined in fermenters. Shortly after fermentation begins, 2-4 days in and after 30-40% of the sugar had been consumed by yeast, we added a precisely calculated amount of neutral grape spirits. This immediately raised the alcohol level of the must to 19-20%, killed the yeast and stopped fermentation. This also protected the remaining sugar from further fermentation and preserved the rich intensity of fresh fruit. By that point the wine had turned fabulously spiced and purple black having absorbed all the flavor and pigment from the grapes. After gentle pressing the wine was matured for two years in a single neutral French oak barrel (there’s not much of it!) and recently bottled.
We’re thrilled with the result, a dense, rich, jam packed dessert wine based on Washington Syrah, with so many of the characteristics of Port: black-purple color, a heady, intense aroma, balanced sweetness, a range of spices and black fruits, and that a structure that lingers long and vivid.
We kept our “family” tradition alive when we named it, this time applying an affectionate Italian name, Dolce Mio Figlio, “My Sweet Son”. Available in 500 mls bottles only, it’s one of those dessert wines that is impossible to keep your hands off of, but will evolve in the cellar for years to come.
Blending Detail and Aging Profile
- Best from 2016 through 2023+
- Serve cool, 65-67°F
AVA & Vineyard Detail:
Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley