Enjoy some Port and Cheese for Christmas?

With this cold snap here in Vancouver, it got me to thinking about opening a bottle of port and enjoying some cheeses over a couple of evenings. I thought that you may also enjoy such things, so I am giving you a short list of some ports and some cheeses that you may want to try.

Port is a fortified wine made in Portugal by definition.  It is usually quite sweet and typically made from one or more of the grape types: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cao, and Tinta Barroca. Other countries make a fortified wine and sometimes call it port, just like some countries make sparkling wine and call it champagne.  So when I am talking about port, I am meaning port from Portugal.

I checked out the Everything Wine store website, www.everythingwine.ca to see what port they have in stock in the $25-$50 range (sometimes it is nice to spoil yourself).  Most of the port listed is from Portugal, but there is at least one in the list from Australia (can you spot it?):

Croft Pink Port 750ml Port $29.99
De Bortoli Black Noble 750 mL Port $46.99
Fonseca LBV 2001 Port 750ml Port $38.99
Graham’s The Vancouver Club Reserve Port 750 mL Port $29.99
Graham’s 10 Year old Tawny Port 750 mL Port $39.99
Graham’s 98 Quinta dos Malvedos Port 375 mL Port $36.99
Graham’s 99 Quinta dos Malvedos Port 375 mL Port $36.99
Graham’s Six Grapes Vintage Character Port 750 mL Port $29.99
Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 750 mL Port $28.99
Hardy’s Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny Port 750 mL Port $29.99
Kopke Colheita LBV 1997 Port 750 mL Port $49.99
Nieport Colheita 1995 Port 375 mL Port $44.99
Quinta de Ventozelo Ten yr old Tawny 375 mL Port $32.99
Quinta Do Crasto 2005 LBV 750ml Port $34.99
Smith Woodhouse LBV Port 750 mL Port $37.99
Taylor Fladgate 10 Yr Tawny Port Port $39.99
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 750 mL Port $25.99
Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas 1995 Vintage Port 375ml Port $49.99
Ventozelo 1998 Port, LBV 750ml Port $39.99

You may have noticed different terms for the ports: Vintage, Tawny, LBV.  Here is a bit of info about these different styles of port (Note that there are more styles than just these):

Vintage:  This is port that is produced from grapes from one year (vintage) and deemed to be of exceptional quality by the port house.  Not every year is declared a vintage in the Douro. The decision on whether to declare a vintage is made in the spring of the second year following the harvest. About 2% of the total port production is Vintage.

Tawny: is a basic blended port,  which is aged in the barrel before being bottled. This type of port can be aged from 3 to 40 years.  The aging in oak causes the wine to take on a reddish-brown colour and develops a dry nutty flavour with raisin notes.

LBV:  This stands for Late Bottled Vintage. iThis is port that was originally destined for bottling as Vintage Port, but was left in the barrel for longer than had been planned. This type of port is bottled between 4 and 6 years after the vintage. The filtered version of this wine has the advantage of being ready to drink without being decanted, is bottled with a stopper that can be easily re-corked and enjoyed over many tastings.

If you want to try some BC “port”, there is some that you can try from Grey Monk and from Sumac Ridge.

Some ports that I’ve reviewed in the past:

Portugal, Taylor Fladgate, White Port, NV
–  Medium gold colour. Oxidized aroma.  Green, orange marmalade, lemon meringue pie, lime, almond aromas.  Medium low acidity, fuller body and intensity.  Sweet, caramel, citrus, dried fruit, and apricot flavours.

Portugal, Taylor Fladgate, 20 year old Tawny Port, NV – Medium tawny colour.  Pronounced intensity.  Figs, red fruit, dried fruit, red cherry, earthy aromas.  Medium sweet.  Medium plus acidity / body / intensity.  Spices, raisin, red fruit, dried fruit and red cherry flavours.  Elegant.

Portugal, Quinta do Panascal, Fonseca Single Quinta Vintage Port 1991 – Opaque purple colour.  Some deposit in the glass.  Black fruit, dried fruit, orange and oak aromas.  Full bodied, medium sweetness.  Spice, raisin, red fruit, black cherry flavours.  Medium to long length.

Some suggestions for cheese to go with port:
Blue cheeses. Stilton is a traditional pairing with port.  The saltiness and the bitterness of the blue cheese balancing with the sweetness and fruit of the port.
aged cheddar
aged gorgonzola
– experiment with other salty cheeses

I hope this gives you a starting point for your Christmas holiday tipple. Enjoy!

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