Thursday, January 5, 2012

Report from ... Port & Douro Wine Tasting – October 18, 2011

As a fan of Port wines I always have trouble understanding when people tell me they don’t like the stuff … what’s not to like:  plum, cherry, chocolate all wrapped up with sweetness and alcohol; where’s the problem?  But there are still those who won’t give Port a fair shake.  The Douro is not just about Port though – there are also some pretty amazing table wines, both in value and in taste that come from the region - and I was noticing a trend to throw as many grapes into the blend as possible, with great results.  But before I wax poetic about the benefits of Port and try to convince you why you should be giving this wine a(nother) shot, let’s take a peak at some of the interesting during-dinner wines that were on offer today, before moving on to what to drink after dinner.

Table Wines ...
Adriane Ramos Pinto 2004 Duas Quintas Especial ($72) – a field blend of some 40+ varieties, but they all seem to get along quite well in the bottle … in fact better than just quite well. (****+)

Quinta do Vallado 2009 Reserve Field Blend ($55) – this one is lovely with great flavours and aromas worth putting your palate around. (****+)

Jorge Manuel Nobre Moreira 2008 Poeira ($50) – another field blend made up from some 23+ grapes, even the winemaker lost count, with some vines being 80+ years old … nice fruit yet with earthy notes keeping it grounded, quite elegant. (****+)

Veedha 2008 Veedha DOC ($12.95) – amazingly good value with lovely red fruit: cherry, raspberry with a slight spice and good smoothness across the palate. (****+)

Other wines – minimal notes with rating …
Lavradores de Feitoria 2010 White – quite fresh. (****)
Lavradores de Feitoria 2007 Meruge – elegant. (****+)

Ports …
As for Ports, there are so many styles and enough producers to make one’s head spin – and that’ll happen if you drink enough of the stuff, at 18-20% alcohol these wines turn heads, in more ways than one.  Here I’ll pick my favourite from a number of producers/houses I tried with a little explanation as to why:

Ferreira … Dona Antonia Reserve Port ($18.95) – this is a 6 year old bottling made in a Ruby-style, but with cherry fruit in the forefront and orange peel backing it up it comes off as a cross between a ruby and a tawny which leans more tawny, especially on the finish. (****)

Taylor Fladgate … the one thing I can say about Taylor is they are definitely consistent up and down their line, from the Late Bottled Vintage at $17.95 to the Vargellas Vinha Velha single vineyard ($275) they really put delicious and style into each and every bottle.  I love the 40 year old tawny (****+) but at $224 I find it a little out of my price range for any bottle, no matter how good it is … the Vintage (2009) marks the first time they have made 4 vintage Ports in a decade (2000 / 2003 / 2007) … but for my money the Late Bottled Vintage 2005 ($17.95) is an absolute steal, very fruit driven with great acidity and the right amount of sweetness. (**** ½)

Sandeman … odd to see a Vintage Port under $20 but the 2000 VAU Vintage ($19.95) is a light refreshing take on the usual heavy vintage port and it drinks well right now. (****)

Hutcheson … 1999 Colheita ($29.95) – creamy smooth vanilla, toffee and dried cherries. (****+)

Calem … 10 Year Old Port ($19.95) – smooth with toffee dominated by spice. (****)

Quinta do Noval … 2005 Late Bottled Vintage (~$25) – a real beauty here, showing that 2005 was a great year for the Late Bottled Vintage stuff: peppery, spicy, blackberry and cassis with a sprinkling of cocoa; long spicy finish ends this one with class and elegance.  Set for release in Ontario March 2012; my recommendation is to buy a few. (**** ½)

Quinta do Infantado … I’ve been a fan of this Port house since first we met a few years back.  I have both their Ruby and Tawny in my cellar.  Hopefully we’ll also see the 2007 Late Bottled Vintage ($N/A) on these shores sometime soon, as it was also well worth putting in the cellar for a spell. (****+)

Dow’s … 2005 Late Bottled Vintage ($16.05) – another fine example of the ’05 LBV’s being worth the price. (****+)

Warre’s … you’ve probably seen OPTIMA in its distinctive clear 500ml bottle, so far we’ve just been privy to the 10 year old version, but now here comes the 20 year old OPTIMA ($39.95).  The 10 doles out sweet cherry and toffee; the 20 dishes up the cherry and toffee and adds a real nice orange peel sensation along with biting acidity and spice; good complexity here. (****+)

Graham’s … another house that shows a great deal of consistency in the bottle; here the choice was easier to make for a favourite though.  Standing heads and tails above the rest of the line was the 20 Year Old Tawny ($36.95) – cherry, anise, orange zest and dried peel, toffee and some almond brittle all add to the intensity and enjoyment of this deliciously inviting sweetie. (**** ½)


1 comment:

Andrew Bert said...

Really liked reading this. Keep it up!

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