Turn To Port For Slightly Sweet Vintages
We have another reason to remember 2016: the majority of producers of Porto, or Port, declared it a vintage year.
A big deal in Portugal, vintage years are called when the quality of the grapes and pre-release port are outstanding, which has occurred just four times since 2000.
Ports are generally crafted from aged wine from several vintages. But in great years, they’ll declare a “vintage” the wine will be from that year. These are pricey, usually starting at $100 per bottle, and once purchased, people sit on them for decades, waiting for them to improve.
But Port comes in many drink-it-now styles and prices, although the category suffers from the stereotype that it is an old person’s sweet hooch, a tasty vehicle for a buzz. If you aren’t drinking Port, however, you should give it a try.
The best Ports taste only slightly sweet. Aged in barrels and full of potent fruit and tannins, Port is finished off with brandy to get the alcohol level to about 20 percent. Everything is turned up to 11.
One way to get an idea of a vintage Port is to try a Late Bottle Vintage, or LBV, Port, made from wine from a single year rather than a multi-year blend.
Dow’s 2012 Late Bottle Vintage Porto is smooth, bursting with blackberry jam, raisin/prune and licorice. This wine has very easy tannins and a soft landing. The 2011 is available in Pennsylvania for $25. ★★★★ 1/2
With new packaging, the classic Warre’s Otima 10-Year Tawny is enjoyable, offering walnut, caramel and fresh berry with a distinctly sweet finish. $30 for a 500 ml bottle. ★★★ 1/2
Drink port slightly chilled. Three or four ounces is considered a serving, so a bottle can go further than a table wine. Enjoy Port as dessert or pair it with pie, cheesecakes or blue cheese. Feel free to refrigerate it after opening. An open bottle will keep for weeks or more, but don’t push it.
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★,
DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week.