I think what many people don't realize about sweet wines is how bright and vibrant they can be—even refreshing. This isn't viscous tropical-fruit nectar, it's wine at once crisp and gently sweet. This Rheingau Spatlese smells a bit like fresh gingerbread, almost peppery. The fruit is pure and luminous: skin-on pears, yellow cherries, baby clementine segments, and a nice balancing green-apple tartness.
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Here's how the story goes: the year was 1775. A messenger was sent to the owner of Schloss Johannisberg (the prince-abbot of Fulda) to get permission to harvest the grapes. The messenger was delayed by several weeks, and by the time he returned, the grapes were affected with noble rot. But the resulting wine was surprisingly delicious, and the winery began to experiment with late harvest dates.