Wine Talk

Snooth User: kylewolf

What else would make a good port?

Posted by kylewolf, Nov 1, 2009.

I know a good majority of Ports are from grapes like Zin, Cab, Grand Noir, muscat, etc, but what of some of these "newer wines" that are taking stage in the recent decades? Grapes with heavy heat, jam, fruit, and dark spices and earth.

Are there are ports out there that utilize Malbec, Carmenere, etc? I think something like these wines, fortified, would produce a rich, deep, and very complex port experience that would unfold beautifully and be very good for cold evenings, fireplaces, and cigars. The heat that is inherent in many of these wines I think would provide a good solid base for a very warming port. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions? I think port doesn't get the recognition it once did so I want to know what people think of some new looks on an old favorite.

(btw, idea came to me a few minutes ago as I am sipping on a 2007 Antis Malbec, Mendoza Argentina)

Replies

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Reply by Charles Emilio, Nov 1, 2009.

You didn't mention Shiraz, I've had some nice ones.
d'Arenberg do quite a nice fortified Shiraz at a decent price

I can understand why you had this idea after drinking Antic Malbec, it certainly needs an ice cube or two dropped into it to tone it down

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Reply by gregt, Nov 1, 2009.

Kyle - The majority of Ports are made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tintã Cão, and Tinta Barroca, although there are something like 80 grapes that can be used. The Australians used grenache to make what they called tawny "port" back in the 1800s and much more recently in CA, they have used a few of the grapes you mention, like petit sirah and zin. But those do not make up the majority of "ports".

However, think about Portugal. They have super hot and super dry weather for much of the summer. The grapes that grow there are those that won't shut down with intense heat. Australians are trying some of those grapes for their desert climate. There aren't many grapes in the world that can producer bigger wines than those of the Portuguese.

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 2, 2009.

Unfortunately, Greg, I haven't had much good port made outside Portugal. Any you'd recommend?

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 2, 2009.

So I guess my question isn't as much 'what else' would make a good port, but 'who else'...

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Reply by Simon Woods, Nov 2, 2009.

Familia Zuccardi in Argentina does a fortified Malbec called Malamado. And there are the Grenache-based VDNs of France such as Rivesaltes and Rasteau

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Reply by gregt, Nov 2, 2009.

I think I agree it's not what else so much as who else. Speaking of malbec, there are also some interesting fortified wines from Uruguay and I kind of like those because they also add spices and herbs and flavorings.

But I suppose if you want Port, you need to go to Portugal. The problem I have with the Australian ports is that they tend to be too sweet and in fact, that's the issue with a lot of tawnys in general. There are a few fortified wines from elsewhere, like Malaga or Banyuls, but I really haven't had many that I thought were great or much more than curiosities. I did pick up some petite sirah port from a winery that was closing out in CA, last vintage was 1991 and those were pretty nice. I've kept a number of them and plan to open once in a while.

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Reply by MarioRobles, Nov 3, 2009.

I agree with you that Port does not get the recognition it deserves... in Australia, Rutherglen, VIC is considered the best region for fortifieds and Seppelt being the front runner. Check this link;

http://www.seppelt.com.au/wines/100...

This is probably the oldest wine released year after year, why?

This is an extract from their website and it will explain why this wine is awsome!

(In 1866, plans to build a new stone cellar were started by Joseph Seppelt, the founder of Seppelt Wines. In 1878 the stone cellar was completed by Benno Seppelt. To celebrate, in a gesture both unique and inspirational, Benno selected a puncheon of his finest wine and gave instructions that it was not to be bottled for 100 years. This became a magnificent tradition and Seppelt is now the only winery in the world to have significant stocks of wine laid down in consecutive vintages over 100 years).

Seppelt produces a wide range of fortifieds such as Tawny Port, Muscat, Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado, Tokay, etc.. at different price points and qualities...

By the way, the varieties they used are Mataro, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Malbec; it is worth mentioning that in the last 100 yrs Australia has used mainly Shiraz and Grenache as the base for Port and other fortifieds...

Also, Australia will be changing the words "Port", "Tokay", etc due to the EU regulations... but the quality is still there!

Greg, I agree. Generally Ports tend to be on the sweet side and it is difficult to find good wines that are on the 'serious' side... although, if it's the right occasion and the right food match... mate, it's heaven!

PS. My Seppelt favourite is the "Rare Rutherglen Muscat GR 113"

http://www.seppelt.com.au/wines/tas...

I must apologise for not commenting some more on the "100 Year Old Para Liqueur Tawny" but $1,000 USD for a 750ml-bottle is definitely not within my budget!

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Reply by Simon Woods, Nov 3, 2009.

Remember in ~1995 trying a 1979 Touriga Nacional 'port' that had been made by the fortified winemaker at Lindemans. The bulk of it was blended into a rather so-so cask wine, but he'd kept a few bottles for his own entertainment. Brilliant wine, not sweet in the way that some of the Aussie fortified Shirazes can be, would have sworn it was from the Douro

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Reply by MarioRobles, Nov 3, 2009.

Well, now that you mention Lindemans and Fortifieds... I have a similar story.
I worked for Poole's Rock Wines for many years and the winemaker (Patrick Auld) worked for Lindemans from some years (of his 30+ career as winemaker) - the first week I was with the company, we had our yearly conference in the Hunter Valley and his wife prepared dinner for the visitors (~40 people) after the multi-course dinner, wines, etc... he pulled out some bottles of a Fortified Verdelho (the Hunter Valley is good with Verdelho) and he said that it was approximately 80-90 years old... and let me tell you... it is the best fortified I've had; of course it is not in the style of Port but in its own style it was magnificent!

PS. He isn't the same winemaker you mentioned though.

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Reply by Simon Woods, Nov 3, 2009.

No, Chris Pfeiffer's the guy I'm talking about

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Reply by fullbottle, Nov 4, 2009.

The Rutherglen tawney ports are good but the muscats and vintage ports (VPs) can be outstanding. The VPs are in a different style to the Portugese vintage ports, being more fruit driven, sweeter and not quite as spiritous (also difficult to get the high quality of spirit that the Portugese can source). We have an annual vintage port tasting with one of my groups in the middle of Winter and it is always one of the best tastings of the year (spit buckets are the order of the day). The VPs can cellar and develop in complexity over decades. Other notable Oz makers for both VP and muscats are McWilliams, Morris, Stanton & Killeen, Chambers and All Saints. Expect to pay close to $100 for a 500mL bottle for the best of the muscats (very old material in the solera) and keep for a special occasion. Also from Rutherglen, Andersen's make an outstanding vintage sparkling shiraz, which is left on lees for years before release. The current vintage on sale at the cellar door is the 2000 vintage (from memory).

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Reply by fullbottle, Nov 4, 2009.

.......... the other good thing about having an annual VP tasting is that it provides an opportunity to see material in the cellar that has tended to accumulate over the years. We don't seem to drink port at dinner parties and other occasions now like we used to and they build up in storage - not complaining mind you. It is almost becoming a forgotten style (but not for me).

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Reply by gregt, Nov 4, 2009.

Interesting comments. I think people forget that Australia produced fortified wines for many years. Even more interesting is that they were using Touriga Nacional in 1979. From the guys I've spoken to, I got the impression that they really started working seriously with Portuguese grapes rather recently, and garnacha was always the standby. Makes sense though.

I'm with you about a forgotten style. It's not like it's actually forgotten, but people either get together to drink Ports and fortified wines, or they don't drink them at all. They're not considered part of the normal course of wines at dinner any more. People still drink sparkling wines, white wines, and move to reds, and then they stop. I think sweet wine as a class is usually overlooked. A real shame too. Those are great sipping wines. Outside of dinner, I pretty much never pour myself a dry red or even white. But somehow sweet wines are good on their own, fortified or not.


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