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This evening I was very enthused about taking part in a Twitter #winechat "Cabernet Franc Festival." Cab Francs are becoming more popular here in the Finger Lakes and maybe the most important red wine grape in the region. I also had one bottle left of a Cabernet Franc that I brought home from Virginia on my last visit. So, I decided to have a mini civil war here on my tasting table, which also doubles as my PC and office desk. Before starting the #winechat, I diced up a few cheeses and thawed out a few Lindt Chocolate balls. I then opened one of New York's finest, a bottle of Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2010 ($18) and my last bottle from Virginia, a Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery 2008 ($15).
The Sheldrake Point is 90% Cab Franc, 6% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was racked out of barrel on August 3, 2009, after nearly 9 months in oak. The wine was blended during the first week of August and chilled for 3 weeks to 35F. To this blend a 4% addition of 2007 Cabernet Franc, a 2% addition of 2008 Merlot, and a 2% addition of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon were added.
Color was a typical Cabernet Franc light garnet red. Aromas were very light, even after a few hard swirls, but when they finally did come thru, I found lots of cherry with blackberry and hints of spice and black pepper and a very faint hint of ginger. On the palate, there were nice dark fruit flavors of black cherry, raspberry and some blueberry. There was also some spice and herbal notes. The medium finish had a little black pepper along with some dark fruit.
The Prince Michael is 95% Cab Franc and 5% Merlot. The wine was aged for 18 months in both French and American oak barrels.
Color was almost identical to the Sheldrake Point. Maybe just a bit darker. Aromas were very evident right from the pour. More blackberry with some cherry and some raspberry. In the mouth this wine was eloquent. Very smooth mouth feel with notes of blackberry, black cherry and just a tad of herbal or earth. Finish was a little short with cherry and some green pepper.
Personally, I billed tonight's #winechat as a mini civil war. One of New York's best against an unknown from Virginia. I was very confident that my Finger Lakes wine would have an easy night, scoring much higher than a wine from Leon, VA. Confident because I have yet to find a Virginia Cabernet Franc, with exception to Jefferson Vineyards, that I liked. But, I was fooled or just haven't yet tasted the best Virginia has to offer. In every category, the Prince Michel proved to be best. Aromas were more compelling, the mouth feel was much smoother with richer fruit taste and the finish was close to silky. Both wines were very nice representation of East Coast Cab Francs, but in this war, the South prevailed.
Both wines will pair very nicely with roasted red meats such as beef and lamb and pairs well with herbs such as rosemary and thyme.Dishes that feature roasted garlic, mushrooms of all types (particularly truffles), legumes (especially lentils) really shine while sides like brown rice, bitter greens, grits (and other stone ground grains) and roasted potatoes enhance the earthy flavor factor. An excellent pizza wine and paired very well tonight with light cheese like Gouda and Havarti, with chocolate bites and even with some slices of pepperoni.
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I've been trying to empty out my red wines for the past few weeks and needed a break from the reds. So, last evening Pam made a nice light dinner of fresh Cod boiled or simmered in water, lemon juice, onion, fennel, parsley, capers and served with rice. A perfect meal for a Finger Lakes Riesling from Thirsty Owl Wine Company
. This one was their 2011 Limited Edition Riesling ($16
The nose was light and a bit complex. There was some floral notes, some pineapple, some citrus, a little peach and a hint of tropical fruits. In the mouth and the medium finish were nicely balanced with nice pink grapefruit, honey and apricot.
The pairing is a bit difficult for me to say anything nice about because I am not a big fan of Cod. Honestly, I don't like Cod at all, but the wine was a different story. The best way I can come up with is to just say that the wine made the dinner enjoyable. Would not expect less from a Finger Lakes Riesling. Highly Recommended
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A few nights ago, Shirley and I dined at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in North Syracuse, Nestico's. The food has always been outstanding and the wine list has always been fantastic. The wine list is small, about 25 different wines and a special "ask for" selection of wines rated 94+, but the selection is what makes this list so fantastic. The menu is more of a somewhat eclectic Italian/American, but I have a few favorites and they are all Italian. My wine choice was usually Italian wines, but over the past few years I branched out with recommendations from the chief cook, bottle washer and owner Peter Nestico. This time it was a wine that he added to the list about a month ago, A Folie à Deux Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. We paired the wine with one of Nestico's specialties, chicken Parmesan with pasta, hoping that this would not be a big jammy California Cab. That, it was not. I was sold with the first sniff of the server's tasting pour.
Color was a dark ruby red with soft aromas of blackberry, blueberry and some black cherry. Mouthfeel was very soft with blackberry, blueberry, some plum and a just a hint of licorice. The finish was medium to long, very earthy berry like and silky smooth. Very nicely balanced and a perfect wine for our Italian dinner. Even Shirley had a second glass. That means she really, really, really liked this wine.
The suggested retail price for this wine is $24, but I was able to find it on-line for as low as $17. When, I buy wine, I very seldom will purchase more than two bottles of any one wine. I don't believe I have ever purchased a case or half case of any one wine, but I am making an exception for this Folie à Deux Cabernet Sauvignon. A case has been ordered. An excellent value and VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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I've been doing these Years in Reviews for a few years now and came close to just forgetting or not really wanting to this year. When I first sat down to start the article, I said to myself, " ya know, there really isn't that much to review for 2012." Seemed logical that I not write a review of the year. Then, I did make some mental notes and put together a short list to help change my mind and record what was a 'life changing' 2012. Not in what I discovered in the world of wine, but more importantly, in my personal life.
Starting on September 1st I began my new life 'unemployed.' Not exactly, that was my first day of retirement. With retirement came lots of plans to lose weight, exercise, catch up on neglected house chores and start a new hobby or two. Hopefully, I'll activate these plans in 2013, but so far, it's been a very lazy four months. It is nice that I can wake up each day and not worry about getting anything accomplished and not having to be anyplace at any certain time, but that quickly became very boring. This week I am going have to somehow explain to my cardiologist that I thought he said "gain 15 lbs" not lose 15 lbs.
When I retired, I also put together a few ideas about changing the blog. Making it more professional looking, changing platform and/or even taking some classes to learn more about blogging and maybe even taking classes to learn more about wine was a 2012 goal. I did decide to not change a thing other than the blog's appearance. Keeping the blog strictly as a personal blog and not getting caught up in the world of the wine journalist, wine writers and wine critics has always been the aim of Why Wine Blog and it will stay that way. In the world of great wines, 2012 was again another year of discovery. Three new favorites added to my white wine list were, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Verdejo, the native grape of Rueda in North-west Spain and Virginia's Viognier. I also sampled Rieslings from Alsace, Austria and Germany, but found that, although tasty, I will stay with Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region of New York.New red wines fared just as well with plenty of Zinfandel, Syrah, Gigondas, and an absolute new go to wine from Portugal, Ruby Red Porto.Now I should be making some New Year Resolutions and setting some goals for 2013. I thought a few months ago that setting goals for the upcoming year would be easier, but now believe it may actually be more difficult since I am not really into a retirement routine. I will be traveling more and visiting family and my hometown of Tamaqua, PA more often and have already been looking at what fishing gear I am going to need in the Spring. Diet and excercise???? I'll wait and see.
Why Wine Blog will remain as is, "wine reviews from an amateur wine lover for the amateur wine lovers"What I am most excited about will be the opportunity to discover more wines. Already in my fridge are wines from the Republic of Georgia and a red wine from Switzerland which were purchased, along with some interesting Italian wines, at the PA Wine & Spirits Shoppe at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, PA, a State Store with a fantastic wine selection. Lot's to look forward to, so I guess I better get started. Happy New Year!
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I thought I was finished posting reviews for 2012, but I received a bottle of wine for a Xmas gift from a good friend and a one time submitter to Why Wine Blog. I opened the wine on Saturday with a tray full of veggies and cheese bits and sat down to watch Syracuse University football (The Pinstripe Bowl) followed by SU basketball. A few sips and I realized I should have saved this wine for an exquisite dinner of lamb, roasted chicken or a savory beef tenderloin.
Aromas were filled with dark cherry, black currants, plum and hints of toast and smoked ham. On the palate there were flavors of black cherry, blackberry and vanilla with black pepper. I waited about two hours until I poured a second glass. The aromas were softer and the black pepper in the mouth gave way to a softer spice. The finish was long, dry with some pepper and spice.
|Entrance Michel Torino Estate|
This is the first Argentinian Malbec that I tasted outside of Mendoza. The vineyards of Michel Torino are located at the high altitude of 5,500 feet above sea level in the Cafayate Valley and Calchaqui Valley in NW Argentina. The vines benefit from a very special climate with clean Andean air, warm sunny days and cool nights, allowing the grapes to reach perfect maturity while retaining vivid fruit flavors. The estate practices sustainable, environmentally friendly farming by minimizing the use of fertilizers and chemicals in the vineyard and winery.
You can find this wine on-line or at many local wine shops between $12 and $15, making this wine an outstanding value. Very Highly Recommended
p.s. Thank you Mark, you win this years wine exchange.
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I think that this was the first Christmas that I did not open more red wines than white. In fact, this year I did not open any red wines. Maybe I was just hesitant because of a recurring ulcer that doesn't tolerate the reds as well as the whites or maybe I am loosing my taste for red wine or maybe I'm just getting paranoid here. The most obvious reason is that with a dwindling family size, Christmas dinner is no longer the big extravaganza that it was in the past. Turkey, ham, lasagna and a tenderloin with all the trimmings imaginable with a choice of four or five desserts all served after a ton of hors d'oeuvres was once the norm. Now we make it more simple, but still a little special. This year, for a change, we served Cornish hens, with potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, cranberries and corn. Not a real challenge for a wine pairing, especially since I was leaving out some of my favorite red wines. An early afternoon Sauvignon Blanc was opened with appetizers of cheese bits, pepperoni slices and a veggie tray and assorted dips and for dinner I opened a white wine that I picked up on our recent Holiday Shopping Spree on Cayuga Lake; a King Ferry Winery Treleaven semi-dry Riesling 2011
King Ferry Winery, maker of Treleaven Wines, is superbly located on the east side of Cayuga Lake. The winery produces multiple award winning Treleaven Wines, including Chardonnays that are crafted in the centuries-old Burgundian tradition.
Although I have never before visited the wineries on the East side of Cayuga Lake, I have tasted a few wines from the King Ferry Winery
. Every Saturday morning you can find Treleaven wines at the Central New York Regional Market
. Shirley is usually good enough to make me tag along at least once a month and it was there I bought my first few bottles of Treleaven. Nice to have a place to buy a nice wine for the week end in the early morning hours on Saturday in CNY.
This 2011 Riesling is full of floral, peach, honeydew melon and pear aromas. In the mouth there was loads of fruit with some light grapefruit citrus. Excellent match with the Cornish hens and I was able to save a glass for later that evening. This is another fine example of Finger Lakes quality when it comes to Riesling. Very Highly Recommended.
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Had to open a red wine with pasta and homemade tomato sauce this week and there just happened to be a new sample bottle, on the table, of Tempranillo from Spain that I had just received. Usually when I receive samples, they are racked until I feel the time is right or the meal is right for pairing before I open them. This time it was only about one hour before opening a Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2010 ($15).
Tempranillo, a red grape native to Spain and the primary grape variety used in the Rioja Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOC), produces wines typically characterized by their deep purple color, fruity notes of dark, ripe berries, andsmoky components of vanilla, tobacco and leather, which are generallypresentdue tothe wine being aged in oak barrels.
Zaco is not constrained by the rules of the traditional aging process. It is neither a Crianza
nor a Reserva
. Zaco is simply ready when award-winning international winemaker Diego Pinilla believes the wine is reaching its full potential. Every year Diego will identify the perfect moment to bottle Zaco.-Crianza red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.-Reserva red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.
The 2010 vintage matured in 50% French oak and 50% American oak for 9 months.
The color was a dark cherry red with aromas of plum, red cherries and hints of vanilla and some cinnamon. Flavors of ripe cherry, plum, spice, toast and smoke in the mouth with a super long finish with just a touch of spice. An excellent wine for pasta and sauce. Other foods that will pair well would be tapas, grilled chicken and BBQ meats. I would also recommend just sipping or chilling out with a few bites of light cheeses.
Suggested retail price on this new release is $15. Past vintages can be found at $10 or less, making this an outstanding value.
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In October of this year, Shirley and I spent a week in Virginia Beach attending a reunion of the ship I spent my Naval active duty on, the USS Pocono AGC/LCC-16. While there I visited a few wine shops and a few wineries on the Chesapeake Wine Trail. I was already sold on Virginia Viognier(vee-own-YAY) from past visits, so this time I wanted to bring home a few red wines. From recommendations at the wine shops, I brought home some Cabernet Franc and a Norton. Norton was first cultivated in Richmond, Virginia and is the official grape of the State of Missouri. I haven't opened the Norton yet, but I did finish the Cab Francs. The first three were very disappointing. Something about East Coast red wines I often find not to my liking. Right from the start, I get a lot of aroma's of damp soil and black olives and although drinkable, I can't rightfully say much more.
That changed this week when I opened the Jefferson Vineyards' NV Cabernet Franc($22). This was not a very typical Cabernet Franc, but was a nice fruit flavored, soft wine that paired well with Shirley's chicken stew. Light aromas of red cherry with a little oak and earth. Very fruity in the mouth with cherries and some plum. The finish was a bit short with some red fruit, a small taste of cranberry and soft. This wine is not going to blow you away, but it was pleasant and I can, at least now, get a bit more excited about trying more Virginia reds.
I have never been to the Charlottesville region of Virginia, although I moved to New York from Arlington VA and did travel much of the Commonwealth while living there, but now I must make plans for a summer visit, if only to visit the Jefferson Vineyards'. Not because the Cab Franc, but in October, Shirley and I fell in love with the Jefferson Vineyards' Viognier.
Our first evening in VaBeach we dined at a restaurant on the boardwalk. Since we have been vacationing there, Mahi Mah's oceanfront restaurant at 6th street has become our favorite and we tend to visit there as soon as we arrive. What was very pleasing to see this time, was a selection of over 20 Virginia wines on the menu. May have been because October is Virginia's Wine Month, but nonetheless, I don't recall seeing anything similar here in New York. Here I had the Bronzed Salmon rubbed with cajun seasoning and brown sugar, then grilled. I paired the salmon with a 2009 Jefferson Viognier. Color was a golden yellow, showing a little age, but still filled with floral, tropical fruits and peach. A very delightful meal, but I was still wanting more of this wine and I found it on our last night out.
|dinner at Tautog's|
While visiting the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center
a volunteer at the Aquarium recommended a restaurant one block from the beach on 23rd St., Tautogs Restaurant at Winston's Cottage
. On the wine menu was a 2009 Jefferson Vineyards Viognier, which was a mis-print, because they were serving the 2011 vintage at a very nicely priced $34.
I immediately knew what wine I was ordering and matched it with fresh local Tuna Martinique - Fresh Tuna marinated in Lime with Cracked Black Pepper, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Zesty Red Onions. I honestly cannot say which was better, the wine or the food.
The color of the wine was a lot clearer than the '09 and filled with aromas of honeysuckle, peach, apricot and some guava/papaya like aroma. The palate was coated with hints of apple, tropical fruits and honey leading to a thick rich velvety finish. Unlike the Cab Franc, this wine will
blow you away. I can safely say that Viognier is my favorite Virginia wine and I will be back for more.
Jefferson Vineyards is one of the first to introduce quality, modern viticulture to Virginia and at long last help realize Thomas Jefferson’s dream of the native production of wine in Virginia. Through thirty years of experience, this modest farm winery offers select wines of superior quality. They produce between 6000 and 8000 cases annually. The wines they offer you are entirely of Virginia. The grapes are grown here on their property and in select sites across the Commonwealth. They do not buy fruit from outside Virginia, nor do they use any commercial concentrates or additives to intensify their wines. These choices are consistent with their values, and they believe they are true to Jefferson's original vision of winemaking in Virginia. Further, they believe these choices create a better bottle of wine and I am not going to argue with that.
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Last weekend Shirley, Pam and I spent the day traveling the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail,
in the New York Finger Lakes region, while participating in their annual Holiday Shopping Spree
, taking home a souvenir wineglass, a grapevine wreath, a collectible Cayuga Wine Trail ornament from each winery, plus holiday recipes. The tour also allowed us to complete much of our Christmas gift shopping in the wineries' gift shops. This season we made an effort to shop almost entirely at small local businesses like the winery shops and the many local shops in the village of Skaneateles, a week earlier, while attending their annual Dickens' Christmas
We started the shopping spree early Saturday morning at the Montezuma Winery
, which is located at the West side and northern end of the Lake along Rte's 5 & 20, traveled down the west side of the lake and finished at 6pm at the Long Point Winery
on the east side completing the day by visiting all 16 participating wineries. Shirley was our designated driver and designated shopper, although Pam and I did help with the shopping. Well at least Pam helped. I did promise that I would not be buying much wine on this trip, so Shirley brought only two of my six bottle wine bags, which meant I took home most of the wine in boxes. Had a hard time convincing her that three cases of wine is not really that much.
All of my day was spent tasting wine and some fantastic recipes at each winery. Among them were some pleasant surprises.
Surprise pairings included the Cranberry Orange Bread with Montezuma's Cranberry Bog wine. If you are like me and not really into fruit wines like Cranberry, then maybe you are just not matching it with the right food. This was a great start to our day along with a taste of a hot Bloody Mary from Montezuma's Hidden Marsh Distillery.
A second favorite pairing of the day was the Pasta and Bean soup with the Ithaca White blend from Six Mile Creek Vineyard
. We were thinking about skipping this winery, because it was located south of Ithaca and a bit out of the way, but very happy we decided not to.
As always, when touring the Finger Lakes Wine Trails, I do tend to bring home a few cases of wine. Most of the wines were 2011 Rieslings, but I did find some nice reds and other whites to fill the rack. Among them was a Viognier from Goose Watch Winery.
This is a wine I fell in love with on my last trip to Virginia and I found that there are only two or three Finger Lakes wineries producing this wine. Another very nice wine and new to my palate was Cobblestone Farm Winery & Vineyard's
2011 Vignoles Reserve. Although very sweet, I paired it with a cheese dip being served and had to bring a few home. Other white wines now in my rack are a Diamond from Thirsty Owl Wine Company
and a Gewurztraminer from Americana Vineyards
. Found these and lots of Rieslings, most notably at King Ferry Winery
, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery
, Buttonwood Grove Winery
and Knapp Winery
along with a Limoncello from Knapp. Added to these were two surprising red wines from Long Point Winery
, a Sangiovese and a Zinfandel and a pleasant Cabernet Franc from Sheldrake Point Vineyards
The day wasn't all about wine, though. I did introduce myself to hard cider at Bellwether Hard Cider.
Think I found a nice accompaniment for Shirley's chili and many of her pork dishes. This nice light fermented beverage is low in alcohol and will make a nice summer thirst quencher. And, I can never leave Cayuga Lake with out some Swedish Hill Winery
Concord grape juice and Glendale Farms organic grape juice that I picked up at Hosmer Winery.
were a few mild disappointments. Although all the recipes and food tastings were great, there seemed to be too many dessert type samples. The three of us agreed that there should be a few more entrée samples. Finally, Shirley and Pam were expecting a lot more local artisans or locally made gift items and crafts in the shops. Sounds like a suggestion for next year!! Anyway, we will be back on Cayuga Lake in the summer and looking forward to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail Home Shopping Spree 2013.
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Early this month I was able to pick up some of my favorite Heron Hill Rieslings at the New York Harvest Festival in Syracuse. I brought home a dry, a semi-dry and a semi-sweet. All three are very reasonably priced at $14 The semi-sweet was served at our Thanksgiving dinner as an apertif and the remaining two were opened the following week at home.
One issue I have overcome, over the past three years, is what white wine to serve on Thanksgiving. Now, it's a no-brainer; a Finger Lakes Riesling is always a hit and this year it was the Heron Hill semi-sweet. I found lot's of floral aromas with peach, citrus and a little slate. Nice soft peach flavors with some citrus and hints of honey were very pleasant with a smooth sweet finish.
The semi-sweet tasted much more sweeter than what I thought it would be with only 3.4% Residual Sugar and paired nicely with a tray of mild cheese and crackers.
A week later, at home, I opened the semi-dry with Shirley's Chili, made with ground turkey, diced pepperoncini and spices, dominated by organic chili powder. As I always do, I poured a glass to sip about 30 minutes before dinner. Aroma's were all peach with some melon and some honeysuckle and garden floral notes. In the mouth the wine was all peach and honeydew melon with a hint of pineapple leading to a fantastic smooth, balanced and white fruit finish. Definitely one of the top three 2011 Finger Lake Rieslings tasted to date. Now, about the pairing!!! I have always been a proponent of "Drink What You Like." If the wine is good and the food is good then your pairing is good. Not this time! The marriage between Shirley's Chili and Riesling ended in a quick divorce. Later that night, I finished the bottle and thoroughly enjoyed with a selection of cheeses, including Brie, Cheddar and Stilton with cranberries. I have one bottle left of the semi-dry and will save that for our next stir fry, which I know this will be a perfect match.
And finally I opened the dry Riesling with homemade quesadillas made with left over turkey and loads of jalapeno peppers then covered with guacamole and a medium hot salsa. The dry Rieslings have always been my favorite, although I find myself purchasing more sweeter ones now. I am also finding I enjoy a little more sweetness with peppery dishes like this one with jalapeno or habanero, but I will never shy away with the very versatile dry Riesling. Tropical fruit aromas like guava and kiwi, with lemon, mineral, a little grass and a tiny bit of tartness. Green apple, some tropical fruits and a dry citrus flavor were again, fantastic. Finish was long and tasty with very small hints of slate and not overly dry. There was a little sweetness that made this wine very delightful.
Heron Hill Winery
is nestled into a hill overlooking scenic Keuka Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region. For over 35 years the winery has set the highest standards for wine quality, customer satisfaction and tasting room experience. Since its first vintage in 1977, Heron Hill has steadily grown from a small 5,000 case winery that only made white wines into a dynamic 20,000 case production facility and entertainment destination for more than 50,000 people every year. During the summer months you can dine at their Blue Heron Cafe
and enjoy free, live music every Sunday on the terrace from 12:30pm - 4:30pm all summer long.
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This is another Port wine I received as a sample for review. I also purchased a few bottles of Port from different producers, to review later, since opening the Graham's Six Grapes
on election night. I still don't know why I suddenly developed a craving for a wine that I would never have given a second look at as late as the last three years. I also found, at least so far, that all the Reserve Ruby Ports are very similar in color, aromas and taste and would really take a more refined palate than mine to detect any vast differences.
Aromas on the Cockburns had a little more red fruit than the Graham's with some plum and raisin. In the mouth the wine was smoother, but also a little lighter in taste with flavors of plum, cherry, chocolate and hints of raisins. The Cockburn's Special Reserve Porto ($14
) finish was a bit short with taste of sweet red berries and a little spice. I had this wine with some Gargonzola cheese and later with some cranberry Stilton cheese. The following night I found the wine to be very nice just sipping on it's own. This is a very nice introduction to Port wines at a very affordable price. Highly Recommended!
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As noted in my last post, I am slowly learning and appreciating premium Ruby Port wines, so much so, I shopped this past weekend for whatever I could find in port wines, at affordable prices. I did find that some Port wines can be little expensive, so I stayed with the Reserve Ports which seem to all cost in the neighborhood of $20. I also started to read a little about this delicious Portuguese fortified wine. Here is some basic information about the wine and the region it comes from. In a future post, after I have a chance to taste them all, I'll talk about the different styles of Port.
Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto, Porto, and often simply port) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.
It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, most notably in Australia, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, and the United States.
Port is produced from grapes grown and processed in the demarcated Douro region. The wine produced is then fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente
in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content. The fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy but it bears little resemblance to commercial brandies. The wine is then stored and aged, often in barrels stored in a cave
and meaning "cellar" in Portuguese) as is the case in Vila Nova de Gaia, before being bottled. The wine received its name, "port", in the latter half of the 17th century from the city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe. The Douro valley where port wine is produced was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation in 1756, making it the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world. Chianti (1716) and Tokaj (1730) have older demarcation but no regulation associated and thus, in terms of regulated demarcated regions, Porto is the oldest.
The Port and Douro Wines Institute is an official body belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture of Portugal and is a key institution in promoting the industry and knowledge of making port wine.
Over a hundred varieties of grapes (castas
) are sanctioned for port production, although only five (Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes— Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho. While a few shippers have experimented with Ports produced from a single variety of grapes, all Ports commercially available are from a blend of different grapes. Since the Phylloxera crisis, most vines are grown on grafted rootstock, with the notable exception of the Nacional area of Quinta do Noval, which, since being planted in 1925, has produced some of the most expensive vintage ports.
Port wine is typically richer, sweeter, heavier, and possesses a higher alcohol content than unfortified wines. This is caused by the addition of distilled grape spirits (aguardente similar to brandy) to fortify the wine and halt fermentation before all the sugar is converted to alcohol and results in a wine that is usually 18 to 20% alcohol.
Port is commonly served after meals as a dessert wine in anglo-Saxon countries, often with cheese; white and tawny ports are often served as an apéritif. In Europe all types of port are frequently drunk as aperitifs.
Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as port or Porto. In the United States, wines labelled "port" may come from anywhere in the world, while the names "Dão", "Oporto", "Porto", and "Vinho do Porto" have been recognized as foreign, non-generic names for wines originating in Portugal.
Still have lot's to learn, but for now, I'll just pour another glass of port, dice up a little sharp cheddar or Gorgonzola and enjoy.
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