Enjoy Some Stickies and Port for Christmas

Christmas gives you an excuse to indulge in dining, sparkling wine, desserts and more.  In the more category, I’d like to let you know about a few stickies (that’s the Australian term for a fortified wine they produce) and port wines that I tried at the last IVSA Trade tasting.

While these wines may appear expensive, compared to a bottle of wine, you just sip a small amount so these fortified wines will last much longer.  I’d be happy to drink these wines on my own, or share with friends and family, and hope you will too.

Croft 1991 Vintage Port

Croft 1991 Vintage Port, Portugal ($89.49).  Deep ruby in colour with no sign of aging.  Cedar, flowers and plum on the nose.  Very nice aromas. Medium body and medium sweetness with cherries, blackberries and spice.  Long length.  A very high quality wine.  Note that most ports are non-vintage.  A declared vintage happens in years when the grapes are of very high quality and the port produced as well from it.  Not every year is a declared vintage.

Fonseca 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal ($63.99).  A tawny port is aged in wooden barrels, which exposes the wine to oxygen causing oxidation. As a result, these wines  gradually turn to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen also imparts “nutty” flavours to the wine. This wine had caramel and roses aromas in the glass.  Amazing flavour with sweet spices, nuttiness and butterscotch.  Sweet but dry with a long length.  I REALLY liked this wine.

Broadbent Madeira Rainwater

Broadbent Madeira Rainwater NV, Portugal ($26.99). Have you ever tried Madeira?  Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. From Wikipedia…Madeira is noted for its unique winemaking process which involves heating the wine up to temperatures as high as 60 °C (140 °F) for an extended period of time and deliberately exposing the wine to some levels of oxidation. Because of this unique process, Madeira is a very robust wine that can be quite long lived even after being opened..”  This Madeira is pale toasty orange in colour with a smoky caramel nose.  Sweet with medium body, spicy and nutty, including dark chocolate flavours.  A different wine to try.

Pertaringa Full Fronti

Pertaringa “Full Fronti” Fortified Muscat NV, Australia ($31.99). This wine is what Australians call a “stickie”.  These wines are produced from grapes that have begun to raisin on the vine. Alcohol is added before fermentation completes so that the wine still has some sugar.  This sweet wine is then aged in a solera type system.  Oxidation occurs during the aging process and evaporation in the hot Australian climate. The final result is a concentrated full bodied sticky sweet wine.  This particular wine was light amber in colour.  Big aromas in the glass of orange, caramel and spices.  Medium body, sweet with caramel, spices, nuttiness and orange.  Lots of flavour and lots of fun. I was told that this wine is available at Firefly on Cambie at 12th Ave. in Vancouver.

Enjoy Christmas, and enjoy these dessert style wines.

Are you interested in having a wine tasting of fortified wines?  Contact me at mywinepal.


My Favorite Wines in 2010 – MyWinePal Blog Selection

Wines change yearly with each new vintage. That’s one thing that makes tasting wine exciting. What wines did I try this past year, 2010, that made my favorite list?  I went through the list and noted that I recommended approximately 111 different wines this year.  The wines below are the ones I’ve selected from my BLOG.  I also have a wine selection from my main MyWinePal.com website.  I’ll post that separately.

From the 111 different wines my favorites for 2010 are:

White Wine

Domaine Comte-Senard Corton-Charlemagne 2006 (Burgundy). This wine was medium to deep lemon in the glass. Lemon vanilla, wood, and butterscotch on the nose. Medium body, with lemon, woody, earthy, and nutmeg aromas. Quite complex. Medium acidity which nicely balanced the fruit in this wine.

Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ) is a very elegant wine. Oak, lemon and herbal on the nose. Big legs from a higher alcohol content, but the wine is balanced by the fruit so not hot on the palate. It does have nice herbal and lemon flavours with good acidity, not too strong.

Church & States Wines Chardonnay 2007 (BC) is medium lemon colour. Nice apricot nose. Vanilla, sweet spice, pineapple and apricot flavours, with a bit of spice. Lots of flavours coming out the glass the more you swirled it around in your mouth.

Van Westen Vineyards Vivacious 2008 (BC) is Pinot Blanc with a hint of Pinot Gris, again has peachy fruit as well as some apricot aromas. Good acidity. Peach and apricot flavours with a touch of greenness.

La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009 (BC), is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.

Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 (BC). This is a new winery in Kelowna, BC. No tasting room yet, but they are located near the Tantalus winery. Pale lemon in colour. A very nice nose with grapefruit and flowers. Medium body, high acidity, with flavours of lemon rind, flowers and some spice.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (Washington) was very elegant.  This wine was medium golden in the glass. Vanilla, oak, lemon and apple aromas.  It was medium body with toasty, lemon and light spice on the palate.  Light acidity to complement the roundness of the wine.  Spice and lemon on the finish.

Red Wine

Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (BC). New world style, with ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with a bit of sweet spice and vanilla. Silky on the palate with vanilla, cherry, and raspberry flavours.

Dominique Laurent Chambolle-Musigny “Les Charmes” 1er Cru (Burgundy). I was told that Dominique Laurent is a bit of a controversial producer in Burgundy in that he buys wine and “elevates” it through the use of oak aging before bottling. His wines have his stamp or “signature” on them. Some enjoy having a wine with a certain style, while others do not. I did enjoy this wine. It was deep garnet in colour. Complex nose with dark cherry, liquor, slight smoke and vanilla aromas. Drying tannins but very fine grained. Medium body. Cherry flavour with slight spice on the finish.

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007 (Bordeaux). This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length.

Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007 (Bordeaux) is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length.

Vina Maipo Syrah (Chile).  It is 85% Syrah with 15% Carmenere.  Deep purple in colour.  An interesting nose with vanilla, rubber and purple fruit.  Dry tannins.  Blueberries show up mid-palate, and cherries on the finish.  A bit of pepper and vanilla.  It has good tannic structure for the fruit to hang.

Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir 2008 (Waiparapa – New Zealand). Light cherry colour. Raspberry aroma. Red cherry and raspberry flavours. Soft tannins. Very elegant.

Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) is light cherry coloured. Smoky, strawberry aromas. Earthy, cherry flavours, with a bit of spiciness and low tannins.

Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah / Viognier 2008 (BC). This Syrah / Viognier was deep purple in the glass, with aromas of vanilla, blueberry, plum and honeysuckle. On the palate you get ripe plum, black cherry and vanilla. Quite spicy, round in the mouth and long length.

Man O’ War Merlot / Cabernet / Franc / Malbec 2008 (New Zealand). The blend for this wine is 42% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 19% Malbec, and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium purple/garnet in colour. Smoky with black cherry and tar aromas. Black cherry, cassis, and vanilla flavours. It was medium plus in body with medium silky tannins and good acidity to balance the fruit. Very nicely done. It had a long length with a dry cherry finish. A quality wine that coated the glass.

Travaglini Giancarolo Gattinara DOCG 2005 (Italy) was a light cherry / tea colour in the glass. Tea leaves, strawberries, cedar and slight oak on the nose. Light body, with medium mouthfeel. Good fruit, with flavours of plum and cherries. The tannins were firm but refined. Dry finish with medium length.

La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2008. (BC). This wine won a Silver in the Northwest Wine Summit this year, and two Gold medals at the Northwest Wine Summit in 2009. It had a nice smoky, strawberry nose with a hint of oak. Light body with strawberry and cherry flavours. Silky with low tannins. Long length with a cherry finish. Buy it before it is all sold out.

Nicol Vineyards Syrah 2008 (BC) is opaque purple in the glass. Vanilla and sweet dark fruit nose. Raspberries, red cherries, blueberries and a bit of minerality on the palate. Soft tannins. I do enjoy a syrah when the blueberry characteristic of the grape is detectable.

Bodega Noemia J Alberto 2008 (Argentina). This is a single vineyard Malbec. The vineyard and winery is certified biodynamic. This wine is deep purple in the glass. A very interesting nose with aromas of cassis, tar and cherries. Full bodied with a smooth round mouthfeel. Cassis, black plum, black cherry and quite spicy on the palate.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington).  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah. The wine is deep garnet in colour.  A nice nose, with aromas of capsicum, cherry, and meat.  Round on the palate with soft tannins.  Meaty, cassis, black cherry, and chocolate flavours.  The wine went through a very light filtering before being bottled, so don’t be surprised to see a bit of sediment in your glass.

Fortified / Dessert Wine

Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (Washington). This wine was made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen from Germany. The Riesling grapes were harvested from their Horse Heaven Vineyard on Oct 31, which according to Chateau Ste Michelle is very rare.  This is only the fifth time in their 40 year history that this has occurred.  The wine was a medium golden colour in the glass.  Petrol, flowers, lemon nose.  Very pretty. Medium body, with a wonderful lime flavour, petrol, and good acidity to balance the sugar and fruit.  Medium sweetness.  Lovely lime finish.

Sparkling Wine

Moreson, Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic, South Africa. This is 100% Chardonnay. A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. Long finish. Nice.

Enjoy this selection and stay tuned for my next blog article, where I will cover my wine selections from the main MyWinePal.com website.

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!