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!

Being Impressed at the G7 Wines of Portugal Tasting – Part 3

There was so many wines to taste and information to ingest at the G7 Wines of Portugal tasting, that I had to leave the food and wine pairing to Part 3.  The event was held at the Bill Reid Gallery in downtown Vancouver.  A wonderful exhibit of some of Bill Reid’s Haida art, as well as art by other First Nations people.  The food for this tasting was catered by diva at the Met, and each course was spectacular.

We started our food and wine pairing with:
Rare seared albacore tuna, marinated cucumber, and a basil emulsion served with the Grande Follies Branco 2007.  The Grande Follies Branco 2007 is a blend of chardonnay and the Portugese grapes Maria Gomes, Cerceal, and Bical. It had aromas and flavours of lychee, pineapple, and stone fruit, along with some vanilla.  The pairing was quite nice.  The acidity of the wine balanced with the marinated cucumbers and complemented the tuna.

Our next course was:
Butternut squash risotto with Oyama shinkin speck, served with Quinta dos Quatro Ventos Reserva 2006 and Tinto da Anfora Grande Escolha 2006.  The Quinta dos Quatro Ventos Reserva is the name of the vineyard, and is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Franca.  It is only produced in exceptional years. This wine has good structure.  Lots of purple fruit flavours and spice on the palate.  The Tinto da Anfora Grande Escolha is a blend, but primarily Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. There is 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend which adds a bit more structure to the wine. Medium garnet in colour. Some earthiness, black cherry, oak, and mint aromas. Medium body, smooth mouthfeel and medium acidity. Lots of ripe black fruit flavours with some spice.  Thse Portuguese reds although having structure, have a supple roundness to them so that they complement the cheese in the risotto, as well as balance well with the cured shinkin speck.

third course was:
Slow braised beef shortrib, carmelized parsnip puree, natural jus, served with Quinta do Cachao, Grande Escolha 2007 and Periquita Superior 2008.  The Quinta do Cachao Grande Escolha is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca.  This wine had a bit of a closed nose but made it up on the palate.  Lots of purple fruit and soft mouthfeel.  The Periquita Superior is a higher level of quality of wine in Portugal, but below the Reserva level. Deep purple in the glass.  Oak, mint and black fruit on the nose.  Medium body.  Firm tannins with purple fruit flavours.  Dry finish.  These red wines worked very well with the beef, which was already very soft from the slow braising.

Our dessert was:
Orange creme tart, toasted almond, apricot garni and dark chocolate, served with Porto Messias Colheita 1985, Moscatel de Setubal 1999, and Alabre 20 Anos. The Moscatel de Setubal 1999 (aka the Muscat of Alexandria grape) is aged in oak malt whiskey barrels. The barrels are stored in a building which is not temperature controlled so the wines are exposed to hot summer heat and cold winter temperatures. The wine oxidizes and evaporates in the barrels to provide additional complexity and concentration to the wines. This wine had a wonderful orange and flowery nose. The Alabre 20 Anos, is a blend of 20 different vintages of this grape from 20 years old to 80 years old! This wine has sweet aromas with orange and some nuttiness. Sweet on the palate with spicy and orange flavours. Very round mouthfeel. The Porto Messias Colheita 1985 had honey and nuttiness on the nose.  Orangy colour.  Medium body, with spiciness and sweetness.  Good level of acidity to cleanse the palate.  The intensity of flavour plus the spice and full body of these wines balanced nicely with the orange creme tart.

I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for Portuguese wines, red, white, and dessert with these last 3 blog posts.  Please post a comment if you enjoy Portuguese wines, and which ones you like in particular.  Gracias!

What Portuguese Wines are in BC?

With my fantastic wine tasting of Portuguese wines this week (see earlier blog articles), I thought I’d make a quick check to one of my favorite private wine stores, EverythingWine.ca, and see what Portuguese wines they have in the $15-$25 range. There are 46 wines, ranging from, white, red, rose, and fortified (e.g. Port).  Here is the list:

Wine Name Varietal Price
Alfrocheiro Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $21.99
Arca Nova Vinho Verde Rose Espadeiro 750ml Rose $16.99
Azul Alentejo Reserva Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $23.99
Azul Bairrada Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $15.99
Azul Palmela Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Azul Ribatejo Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Azul Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $18.99
Azul Vinho Verde 750 mL White Blend $16.99
Cabriz Red Blend 750 ml Red blend $16.99
Carm Organic Red Blend, Douro 750 mL Red blend $21.49
Casa Santos Lima Amoras 750ml Red blend $16.49
Casa Santos Lima Fernao Pires 750ml Fernao Pires $18.99
Cockburns Special Reserve 750ml Other $22.99
Collalbrigo Rose Brut 750 mL Rose $22.99
Dfj Grand Arte Alicante Bouschet 750ml Red blend $24.99
Dona Helena Terras do Sado Branco 750 mL White Blend $15.99
Encostas do Douro Palestra Red Blend 750ml Red blend $17.99
Espumante Luis Pato Maria Gomes Bruto 750ml Maria Gomes $21.99
Flor de Crasto 2004 Red Blend 750ml Red blend $16.99
Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Port 750ml Other $22.99
Wine Name Varietal Price
Fonseca Ruby Porto 750 mL Red blend $21.99
Forgotten Field Red 750ml Red blend $15.99
Forgotten Field White 750ml White Blend $15.99
Graham’s Six Grapes Vintage Character Port 375 mL Port $17.99
Jose Maria de Fonseca Periquita Terras do Sado Reserva Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $17.99
Lemos & Van Zeller Golfers Branco 750ml White Blend $22.99
Lemos & Van Zeller Golfers Tinto 750ml Red blend $18.99
Mateus Rose 1.5L Rose $18.99
Ochoa Rosada de Lagrima 750 mL Rose $16.99
Ochoa Tempranillo 750 mL Tempranillo $20.99
Quinta da Garrida Tinto 750ml Red blend $19.99
Quinta De Azevedo Vinho Verde 750ml White Blend $18.99
Quinta De La Rosa douRosa Rose Wine 750ml Rose $22.99
Quinta De La Rosa douRosa White Wine 750ml White Blend $24.99
Quinta de Roriz Prazo de Roriz 2004 Red Blend 750ml Red blend $23.99
Quinta de Ventozelo Vinzelo Red – Douro 750 mL Red blend $17.49
Quinta do Correio Tinto 750ml Red blend $21.99
Quinta do Crasto Crasto Douro Tinto 750 ml Red blend $19.99
Quinta Do Crasto LBV Port 2000 375 ml Port $20.99
Quinta do Encontro Merlot 750 ml Merlot $16.99
Wine Name Varietal Price
Quinta Do Vallado Douro Branco 750ml White Blend $21.99
Sandeman-Finy Ruby Porto 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Taylor Fladgate 1st Estate Reserve Port Port $22.99
Taylor Fladgate LBV 2003 375 mL Port $18.99
Taylor Flagdate White Port 750 mL Port $22.99
Warrior Port 750 mL Port $24.99

You will see that many of the wines are listed as blends.  For the reds expect 2 or more of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Baga. For the wines expect a blend of Alvarinho, Louriero, and/or Arinto. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Everything Wine to pick up some of these wines and enjoy with friends.

Cheers.

Enjoy

Being Impressed at the G7 Wines of Portugal Tasting – Part 2

In my last blog I introduced you to some white wines from Portugal. I didn’t mention, but should have, that the white wines of Northern Portugal, are well-known by the name Vinho Verde. (There are also some red Vinho Verde, but maybe I’ll talk about that another time).

In Part 2 of Being Impressed at the G7 Wines of Portugal Tasting, I would like to talk about the red wines made from the Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Baga grapes, and some food and wine pairings we enjoyed. I mentioned in Part 1 that there are approximately 256 different vitis vinifera grape varieties in Portugal. I wondered with this much variety, how many of the French vitis vinifera (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay) are planted in Portugal. I was pleased to hear that in the past it was about a 50/50% split, but now, 80% of the grapes planted are indigenous Portuguese varieties. I do like variety in wines and trying wines that are particular to a specific place in the world. Maybe you can say that these particular grapes express the terroir of the land.

Tinta Roriz is also known as Aragonez in Portugal. To confuse you even more, this grape is known as Tempranillo in Spain. The wines made from this grape provides elegance and also some mintiness to a Portuguese blend. The wine I tried was deep purple in the glass with some mintiness and black fruit aromas. It was medium in body, with low tannins. Black cherry and oaky flavours. It is also one of the grapes that go into making port wines.

The second red wine we tried was from the Touriga Nacional grape. This is another port wine grape, but also can be blended or on it’s own for still wines. We tried Touriga Nacional from the North (Douro), the Central (Setubal), and the Southern (Dao) parts of Portugal to see the differences in the wine produced from each region. Overall I would say that the wines had more tannic structure in the north, and became softer and smoother as you went south. Touriga Nacional has similar aromas to shiraz. The Douro wine was opaque purple in the glass. An amazing aroma. Very fruity, black fruit and vanilla on the nose. Ripe purple fruit flavours with some spice and round mouthfeel.

Touriga Franca was the next variety that we tasted. Touriga Franca (also known as Touriga Francesca) is another port wine grape, but also great as a still wine for drinking. It is a very difficult grape to grow. It does not like humidity and is prone to botrytis. It is happy with little rain and is late to mature. BUT can produce a wine with exceptional flavours and aromas if kept to low production. The wine we tasted was opaque purple in colour. Meaty, stewed / dried black fruit, vanilla, and leather aromas. Black fruit, spice and chocolate flavours. Medium acidity and tannins. I was really impressed by this grape variety.

Baga was our last grape variety to try, but not the last red grape that I will talk about. Baga I was told has great aging potential. It is widely planted in Portugal. This wine was opaque purple in colour. Some mint, oak, and black fruit on the nose. Ripe black fruit, a hint of spice on the palate. It was full bodied, with medium tannins and a long length.

The last grape variety that I would like to tell you about is the Moscatel de Setubal. This is the same as Muscat of Alexandria from around Egypt. I saved this one to the last as this grape is used for fortified wines, and we tasted wines from this grape when we enjoyed the dessert portion of our food and wine pairing. We tried a Moscatel de Setubal 1999 and Alabre 20 Anos (years) with our dessert. The Moscatel de Setubal 1999 is aged in oak malt whiskey barrels. The barrels are stored in a building which is not temperature controlled so the wines are exposed to hot summer heat and cold winter temperatures. The wine oxidizes and evaporates in the barrels to provide additional complexity and concentration to the wines. This wine had a wonderful orange and flowery nose. The Alabre 20 Anos, is a blend of 20 different vintages of this grape from 20 years old to 80 years old! This wine has sweet aromas with orange and some nuttiness. Sweet on the palate with spicy and orange flavours. Very round mouthfeel. These two wines, plus a port were paired with an orange creme tart, toasted almond, apricot garni and dark chocolate. It was an unbelievably good pairing.

Back to the still red wines. After going through the flight of white and red wines, sans labels, we then tasted five labelled red wines. The first was the Quinta da Garrida 2007 from the Dao region. A blend of Tinta Nacional and Tinta Roriz (50/50%). Opaque purple colour. Pruple fruit and oak on the nose. Medium body with dry tannins. Chocolate, black fruit, oak and spicy flavours on the palate. Long length a wonderful wine.

Next was the Tinto da Anfora 2007. This is a blend of many grapes, but primarily Tinta Roriz and Tinta Nacional. There is 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend which adds a bit more structure to the wine. Medium garnet in colour. Some earthiness, black cherry, oak, and mint aromas. Medium body, smooth mouthfeel and medium acidity. Lots of ripe black fruit flavours with some spice.

One of my stars of the tasting for me was the Periquita Reserva 2007 (~$15). This is a blend of 3 varietals. Pencil lead aroma. Medium body with purple fruit, more pencil leads, violets, and vanilla flavours. Round mouthfeel with low tannins.

My other star wine was the Follies Cabernet Sauvignon / Touriga Nacional (30/70%) 2008 (~$16). Opaque purple in colour. Lots of aroma in the glass. Violets, black fruit, spice and mint aromas. Full bodied. Good fruit / tanning balance. Purple fruit flavour with a dry tannic finish.

The last wine in the flight of five wines was the Dados Reserva 2008. This is a blend of Tinta Roriz (60%), Touriga Franca (30%), and Touriga Nacional (10%). This wine is made from a very dry vineyard. The wine was opaque purple in colour. Purple fruit and vannila on the nose. Vanilaa, and purple fruit flavours. Smooth mouthfeel and medium body.

I think I need to do a Part 3 to this tasting. As I have 8 wines to go for the food and wine pairing. So stay tuned for Part 3. I hope I’ve enticed you a bit to go to your nearest wine shop to check out some Portuguese reds. Enjoy!

Being Impressed at the G7 Wines of Portugal Tasting – Part 1

There is always so much to learn in the world of wine. Different varietals, different wine regions, different wine vintages, etc. Today, I learned a bit more about the 7 major wine regions of Portugal, and their indigenous vitis vinifera grapes.

We started out the tasting with a description of the wine regions of Portugal and the history of vitis vinifera in Europe, lead by Domingos Soares Franco, the senior winemaker of Jose Maria da Fonseca. With the latest ice age, vitis vinifera survived in the southern most parts of Europe, which included Portugal. After the ice sheets receded, then the grapes from these regions spread to other regions in Europe. So we have Portugal in part to thank for the survival of the vitis vinifera grapes.

While most people think of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, and the Pinot varieties, when they think of vitis vinifera, there are many other grapes in this family. In Portugal there are approximately 256 different indigenous vitis vinifera types of grapes. These grapes have names like Alvarinho, Louriero, Arinto, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Baga. Our speaker Domingos Soares Franco took us through a tasting of these Portugese varieties to show us the potential of each varietal.

To keep this blog article short, I will cover the white wine varieties, and in Part 2 of this blog article, I’ll cover the red varieties. Tudo bem?

Alvarinho is the first white grape variety. The wine I tasted from this varietal was bright in the glass, medium yellow in colour. Lemon, vanilla, peach and banana aromas. Medium body and acidity, round mouthfeel, with lemon, banana and vanilla flavours. A bit of spice and a long finish. I was very impressed with the Alvarinho grape and look forward to enjoying wines from this variety in the future and exposing other people to this variety.

The second white of the day was from the Loureiro grape. I tasted wines from this grape in the past and it always impresses with it’s aromas and flavours. Loureiro is typically a blending grape, but I think it is a wonderful grape on it’s own. The wine I tried today was medium lemon in colour. Flowers and orangy aromas and flavours. Off dry with good acidity to balance the bit of sweetness.

The Arinto grape is very important in Portugal due to its high level of acidity. The wine from this grape can be blended with other white grape variety wines that to do not have as high a level of acidity so that you can enjoy the flavours of the other white grapes, add flavour complexity, and the refreshing component brought by Arinto’s acidity. The wines from this grape typically have tropical fruit flavours.

In Part 2 of the blog I will cover the red grapes Moscatel de Setubal, Tinto Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Baga. I’ll then cover the second flight of wines we had, and finally our food and wine pairings! Lots to cover.

Enjoy.