Showing posts with label Port wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Port wine. Show all posts

Monday, April 20, 2020

Warre's Fine White Porto

The Symington family calls their Warre's label "the original British Port House."  Pulling grapes from several superb quintas - Cavadinha, Retiro, Telhada - winemaker Charles Symington's family has been at it for five generations.  The company itself was founded in the 1600s.  They recently declared 2017 as a vintage Port year, just like 2016.  It was the first such back-to-back declaration in the 130+ years the Symingtons have been in charge.

I was supplied with a sample of Warre's Fine White Porto, and it should be on your radar.  Where I live, in Southern California, it's never really "Port weather," so I drink Port whenever I like - for instance, during self-isolation due to COVID-19.  This wine is a fantastic example of why Port is such a damn pleasure to drink.

Warre's Fine White Porto

Warre's Fine White is produced from traditional white grape varieties grown in the Douro Valley - Arinto, Códega, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.  The winery explains that fermentation takes place "off the skins," which they say makes for a more delicate wine.  Aging took place at lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia in a combination of oak casks and stainless steel tanks.  The white also hits 19% abv and sells for about $15.

This white Port carries a golden tint and gorgeous nose of sweet caramel and stone fruit.  The palate is sweet and fruity with almond notes and a ton of acidity.  It makes a great aperitif or dessert, and will be a fine base for a cocktail.  It even pairs well with potato dishes, cheese and guacamole.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Port For The Holidays - Or Anytime, Really

Port wine is a favorite wintertime drink for folks who live in colder climes.  As the holidays approach, the following is another fine possibility for your fireside sipping. 

In Los Angeles, we are still waiting for winter, a winter which may not come until February, if at all.  I'm not complaining, although many people do miss the seasons of their home states.  Those people have forgotten what it was like to shovel their car from under a mountain of snow on Easter morning. 

I drink Port no matter the outside temperature, as often as possible.  It's like Champagne.  Why wait?  Also, I have it on the best authority that if you want to leave a beverage for Santa near the Christmas tree, save the milk for your porridge.  He wants Port.

The arrangement of six grapes shown on the label of Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Porto refer to the company's symbol which marks the best lots, the ones that could end up as vintage Port.  The grapes came from the same five vineyards used for vintage Port, including the flagship Malvedos.  The Six Grapes brand is made from the remainder of the lots which did not go into the VP.

Six Grapes is youthful and fruity, and pairs well with chocolate or blue cheese.  Alcohol is "portly" at 19.5% abv and the retail price is $24.

This Port's nose carries plenty of big red and black fruit, with the characteristic notes of brown sugar, caramel and earth.  The palate is fruit forward with a zingy acidity and firm structure.  The is nothing like a Port, and Graham's Six Grapes is a great reminder of that.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Monday, August 26, 2019

Warre's Ports, Ruby And White

The Symington family calls their Warre's label "the original British Port House."  Pulling grapes from several superb quintas - Cavadinha, Retiro, Telhada - winemaker Charles Symington's family has been at it for five generations.  The company itself was founded in the 1600s.  They recently declared 2017 as a vintage Port year, just like 2016.  It was the first such back-to-back declaration in the 130+ years the Symingtons have been in charge.

I was supplied with samples of several Warre's Ports, and they should be on your radar, especially with "Port weather" expected to arrive - at some point.  Where I live, in Southern California, it's never really "Port weather," so I drink it whenever I like.  These wines are fantastic examples of why Port is such a damn pleasure to drink.

Warre's Heritage Ruby Porto

Aged for an average of three years in used oak barrels before being blended, filtered and bottled, Warre's Heritage Ruby Porto is a beautiful Portuguese wine at a great price.  It carries 19% alcohol and sells for around $15.

This beautiful Port shows a nose of ripe, red fruit, syrup and smoke.  The palate is young and playful, boasting currant and berries with a viscous mouthfeel and a tannic structure that begs a great piece of cheese.

Warre's Fine White Porto

Warre's Fine White is produced from traditional white grape varieties grown in the Douro Valley - Arinto, Códega, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.  The winery explains that fermentation takes place "off the skins," which they say makes for a more delicate wine.  Aging took place at lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia in a combination of oak casks and stainless steel tanks.  The white also hits 19% abv and sells for about $15.

This white Port carries a golden tint and gorgeous nose of sweet caramel and stone fruit.  The palate is sweet and fruity with almond notes and a ton of acidity.  It makes a great aperitif or dessert, and will be a fine base for a cocktail.  It even pairs well with potato dishes, cheese and guacamole.

Warre’s Warrior

The oldest mark of Port in the world, Warre's Warrior has shipped continuously since the 1750's, with the name branded on the casks.

It is made from grapes grown in quintas in the Pinhão and Rio Torto valleys.  The finest barrels are set aside by winemaker Peter Symington for aging in the lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia.

Alcohol in Warrior is a touch higher than in their Ruby, at 20% abv. It sells for  $46.

This Port wine is inky indigo in the glass.  Its nose conveys dark, ripe fruit with an overlay of leather and tobacco.  The palate is rich and dark with a firm tannic structure and a pleasantly long finish.




Otima 10-Year-Old Tawny Port

Warre's Otima 10 Year-Old-Tawny balances youthful fruit with a decade in seasoned wood.   All that time in oak turns the ruby hue to a brownish color and makes the palate more delicate.  Warre's also makes an Otima 20-year Port.  Otima 10 hits 20% abv and retails for $32.

The nose on this tawny Port is so full of raisins and hot caramel it can mean nothing except dessert.  The palate reaffirms that feeling, with a sweet taste which brings a little savory along for the ride.  There's enough acidity to make pairing possible, maybe with a slice of pumpkin or pecan pie.




Monday, March 4, 2019

Dow's Port

Before the Port season slips away, here's a 2012 Vintage Port you should try.  Of course, it's always Port season for some, but the style does fit better with cooler - colder - weather and more robust meals.

Houston Porter writes on Petaluma360 that Port is just one in the family of fortified wines, which includes Madeira, Marsala, sherry and vermouth.  True Port wine comes from Portugal, although many wineries use the term to market their own bottlings.  Technically, Porter writes, to be called port the grapes must be grown, crushed, fermented and initially aged in Portugal's Douro Valley, the world’s "oldest demarcated wine region."

Port wine blossomed in the 1700s when England was at war with France and sought to replace the French wine they couldn't get anymore.  Many Port houses still have English names, like Dow.  The reds are made from grapes with names like Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Nacional.

Port requires at least two years aging.  Ruby Ports are aged mostly in bottles, while the tawny style is aged in barrels.  Ruby generally shows more fruit flavor as a result, and tawny is a more savory wine.

Dow 2012 Late Bottled Vintage Port

Late Bottled Vintage Port is made from a single vintage of Ruby Port and gets up to six years in the barrel before being bottled and released.  Dow's says they only produce Late Bottled Vintage Port from the best of years, passing over lesser vintages.

Dow's 2012 LBV comes from the Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira vineyards.  The Symington family winemakers have tended those plots for five generations. I'm told that 2012 was a very dry year in the Douro Valley, but cooler-than-average summer temperatures helped offset the drought.  The alcohol hits a typical 19% abv level and the wine retails for $24.

I won't beat poetically around the bush.  This vintage Port (2012) is nothing short of astounding.  It's got the savory nose one expects on a tawny, but bigger, blacker, more brutish.  A heavy whiff of smoke never goes away, and the earthy aromatics stay right behind.  The palate lets the fruit shine through, sweet and sultry, with an amazing level of acidity and oh-so-firm tannins.  It's a great sip, but I'm saving the last glass to have with a steak.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Good Night For Port

"It’s a good night for Port," my wife said.  The brutal Southern California winter had its teeth in us, with the overnight low expected to drop UNDER 60 DEGREES.  God help us, we have Port and will hopefully wake up tomorrow.  "Port weather" really doesn't happen in Los Angeles, so you have to jump in there when you get the slightest chance.

Charles Dickens let Ebeneezer Scrooge's nephew Fred describe Port to Bob Cratchit: "It's wine, Bob.  A cheery, warming, goodly wine.  A wine that'll race through your veins with little torches.  It's port, Bob.  The fifth essence of the Christmas spirit."

Quinta de la Rosa has been in the Bergqvist family since 1906, but they were Port shippers well before that.  The vineyards cover 55 hectares of the slopes above the Douro River, and winemaker Jorge Moreira works with grapes that have been foot trodden.

Of the many different styles of Port, ruby is the cheapest and most plentiful.  After fermentation, it is stored in concrete or stainless steel tanks, and usually blended from different years to match the house style.  Ruby is between two and five years old.  The folks at La Rosa say their Ports "tend to be slightly drier than the norm and are made from A class grapes."

The de la Rosa Ruby Reserve Lote No. 601 is dark ruby in color and smells of currant, laden with savory notes of leather and smoke.  It's a complex nose for what it considered the least complex Port.  Savory touches flourish on the palate, too.  However, the fruit flavors are bold and forward, while the acidity rips and the tannins exert their will, with little torches. 


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"Surprise Me"

A good wine dealer is a great thing to have. I can simply tell Roberto at Wine Expo in Santa Monica how I feel and he always seems to have "this interesting little wine over here" that perfectly complements my mood. This time I just told him to surprise me, and he did.

Krohn Port Rosé is a style of wine I'd never had before, didn't even know it existed. It's called "pink Port" and contains Portuguese grapes like Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca. Fernando Carneiro makes this non-vintage wine. Roberto told me it is often drunk chilled or enjoyed in a long drink with tonic water, ice and lemon. Alcohol is port-like at 20% abv. He was selling it for about $18 a bottle.
The Krohn Port Rosé has a dark raspberry color with some browning.  The nose is much like port, but not so sweet. The earth note is very pronounced, and there is a slight medicinal edge. On the palate, I'm again reminded of full-color port, but with a lighter feel on the mouth. It's not quite so thick or syrupy, but is sweet and refreshing.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dessert Wine Undergoes Drastic Change In Five Years

A business trip to Sonoma County about five years ago resulted in a side trip to Calistoga, and a stop at the Bennett Lane Winery tasting room.  An impressive sample list was capped off with the Bennett Lane Dessert Wine, which I liked so much I bought a bottle to take home.  We just opened it recently, and discovered the wine had undergone quite a change.

The Bennett Lane website bills their dessert wine as a “traditional port style wine, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Carignane and all of the classic Portuguese varietals.”  While I remember it tasting very Port-like at the time of my visit in 2009, it now more closely resembles a dry sherry.  My notes on the wine I tasted in the Bennett Lane tasting room say, “Beautiful, rich flavors abound. Figs, cherries and some spicy notes put me in mind of Christmas.”  It still does, only in a different way.  The promised fruit has become more of a coffee/caramel/raisin show.

Bennett Lane Dessert Wine carries the subtitle of "After Feasting Wine," and that is still a perfect time for its consumption.  At 7.41% residual sugar, it is sweet enough - but not too sweet.  At 18.5% abv, it has the kind of kick that caps off a fine meal in style.  At $60 for a 375ml bottle, it qualifies as a real splurge.  Hopefully it won’t turn into a $30 sherry while it waits its turn under the corkscrew.

What once was a rich red drink is now showing deep browning in the glass.  The opaque wine smells of raisins and alcohol.  The palate is luscious - raisin notes are draped heavily in burnt caramel.  The alcohol does show prominently, but it comes off more like a drink that is much stronger than wine.  There is quite a bit of grape residue in the bottom of the bottle.  Pairing this wine with the standard spread of pies at holiday time is a natural even in its decline, maybe even more so than when it was in its youth.