Gentlemen (and Ladies), Pass The Port

    The Wine Guy

     There is one category of wine that I haven’t mentioned nearly as much as I should, particularly at this time of  year, when the colder weather enhances its enjoyment even more. Port, or fortified red wine, was originally produced in the area of Porto, in the country of Portugal.

    For hundreds of years, it was made in Portugal and consumed almost exclusively in England; today, consumption is global and while British ownership is still predominant, growth and production in other regions of the world is changing that, too. So, let’s look at five samples-three from the Old World and two from newer production areas.


    Quinta do Sagrado 2010 L.B.V. Late Bottled Vintage (Port), ($28.99), This vineyard has been making Port for centuries and this particular vintage shows that experience can provide great quality at a real value. Aged in large, old wood barrels for six months has softened and opened up the fruit of this wine. It has a dry core as well as ripe prune and stewed-plum flavors. With the spice of the added brandy giving the wine its extra richness, this is a fine, almost mature LBV. It could age further, so drink now or until 2023.


    Dow’s 20-Year-Old Tawny Port, Porto, ($45.99), “20 Years” indicates an average age – this Aged Tawny Port is a blend of older wines, which offer complexity and younger wines, which bring fresh fruit flavors and vibrancy. During their long maturing period in oak casks, Aged Tawnies undergo subtle color changes: the deep red hue which characterizes Port’s youth gradually gives way to a paler golden amber color. Dow’s is known for its characteristically drier house style. This 20 Year has a full, nutty bouquet, concentrated, citrus, almond and caramel notes on the palate and a lingering finish. Many consider the 20 Year to be the perfect blend of complexity and vibrant fruit when it comes to Aged Tawny.


    Sandeman’s Founder’s Ruby Red Port, NV, ($29.99), Where basic “Ruby port” is aged no more than three years, a Reserve Ruby like this one gets a couple more years in the barrel or steel vat (this one gets five) meaning you’ll get the classic powerful fruit and berry flavors of a Ruby port tempered by just a touch of age. A good step up, and only a few dollars more, if you’re looking to add a little edge to the fruit, heat, and sweetness of a classic ruby. Try this one with soft cheeses and fruit, especially cherries and in warmer months you can have it chilled-an instant dessert in a glass!


    KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny, NV, ($24.99),KWV is one of the leading wine and spirit producers in South Africa and is the only South African brand to be voted onto Drinks International’s Most Admired Wine Brands! To top this special accolade, the Classic Collection Cape Tawny was awarded the world regional trophy port-style wines at the 2015 Decanter competition in London. Made by Anne du Plessis from Tinta Barocca, Cinsaut and Souzao grapes, the wine spends up to 10 years maturing peacefully in large oak barrels in the cool, dark cellars of the KWV. The result is an amber coloured liquid that reminds me of Christmas, with spicy marmalade, roasted nuts and creme brulee flavours. Just the number to ward off the cold! Serve slightly chilled with some roasted nuts and salty olives before dinner.


    Let’s conclude by going to California, which has made big strides over the last few decades. Prager Winery & Port Works, in the Napa Valley’s St. Helena, has been the perfect prescription for Port lovers since 1979. Family owned and operated winery in the heart of the Napa Valley, Prager Winery & Port Works currently offers Vintage Port, Tawny Port, White Port, as well as Petite Sirah and Late Harvest Riesling table wines. Their Prager Port, 2010, Napa Valley, ($55.00),is a deep, full bodied California Port. This blend of Petite Sirah and 3 traditional Portuguese varieties has aromas of sweet cherry, cola, and chocolate. The flavors of dried cherry, vanilla and chocolate coat the palate, finishing with soft tannins. This one can be enjoyed with a wide variety of dessert items, especially anything with dark chocolate in it.


    We’ve got the cold, now get the Port!