On the Road with the Grape Guy

Report from : Port Wine Day

06 Apr 2022

(November 2021) ... In my opinion, Port wine day should be every day, but in 2021 they deemed it to be November 12th. Six port wines showed up at my door the day before for a showcase of six different styles of this misunderstood beverage of the wine world. Here are some notes about the six wines tasted.

A Few Facts and Figures ...

Port is distributed to 105 markets, led by France, the UK and Portugal itself. The US sits fifth on this list and Canada 9th, sandwiched between Germany and Switzerland.  Portugal ranks 9th in the world in terms of vine area and wine exports and 11th for wine production.

These are the Port Wines tasted today ...

Martha's Fine White Port
$19.55 - 249044 - LCBO and other fine wine stores
A six-grape "field" blend of Malvasia, Viosinho, Dunzelinho, Gouveio, Moscatel and Rabigato - goes through 3 years of aging and the fermentation is stopped with Brandy to keep those sweet fruit notes and the elevated alcohol (19.5%) ... Well balanced with a sweetness versus acidity playfulness: nutty and roasted almond notes backed by honey and apricot. Lovely with tonic and a lemon wedge. Pretty good on its own, too.  (*** ½+)

Niepoort 10-Year-Old Ttawny
$48.30 – 699727 - LCBO and other fine wine stores
Lots of grapes make their way into this 10-year-old tawny port: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cao, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousao and Tinta Roriz ... This is an acid-driven tawny, and that’s what truly helps balance these wines: lovely notes of dried cherry and orange peel with a subtle walnut/almond note to the finish: fresh and lively.  (****)

Taylor Port 20 Year OldTaylor Flatgate 20-Year-Old Tawny
$69.95 – 149047 - LCBO and other fine wine stores
The talk for this port was done by David Guimaraens who imparted tons of worthwhile Port information. Like, in barrel these ports lose 2% annually, which concentrates the sugars and acidity; sugar is about 100 g/ per liter and the added spirits (that stops fermentation) make up for the low acidity; plus, they add younger port for some tannins and "freshness of youth”. This has always been the gold standard of 20-year-old tawny for me, it's always a delight for the senses: silky mouthfeel, but with good balancing acidity – that helps rein in the sweetness, there's a cool citrus-y note, but also cherry, plum and spice, it starts with that sweetness, but finishes dry ... Not an easy feat.  (**** ½)

Quinta da Devesa 30-Year-Old Tawny
$112.45 – 280296 - LCBO and other fine wine stores
The grape selection here says "old vines" and nothing else ... A real citrusy note from the get-go, especially on the nose, followed on the palate by dried cherry and really high acidity. There's an interesting intensity and complexity here with notes of orange peel, almond, praline, subtle spice, dried fig and even some dates.  (*** ½+)

Sandeman Vau VintageSandeman 1999 Vau Vintage
Not sold in Ontario at the moment.
The Sandeman Port House dates back to 1790 and Vau Vintage was established as an affordable vintage port, think vintage port for beginners ... They're half bottles of the same vintage came through the LCBO at about $20 (or less) a bottle, so that value is there. Silky mouthfeel with nice acidity on the finish. More freshness than expected (considering its age). The finish shines: cherry and plum, mostly, with notes of spice, rhubarb, red / black currant and black and blue berries. A really approachable, very fruit driven vintage port. (****)

W&J Grahams 2015 Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Graham LBV
$18.75 – 191239 - LCBO and other fine wine stores
This LBV is bottled in its 5th year of being in barrel, giving it a softer, smoother mouthfeel and drinkability earlier, when compared to vintage port. Has lots of those chocolate, black cherry, plum, blackberry and spice as its primary characteristics. It's dark and dense and delicious; there's a little chalkiness on the finish, so it's perfect for lying down a few years. Don't hesitate to do that with LBV; while they are meant to be consumed younger than vintage port, they age exceptionally well for a decade or more.  (****+)



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