Woodbridge Portacinco Port 1999
Complex nuances of deep blackberry, vanilla, chocolate, caramelized nuts, and spices weave through the aromas and sweet flavors of Woodbridge 1999 Portacinco. We have made the wine from five traditional Portuguese grape varieties that are rarely cultivated in America: Touriga Nacional, Bastardo (also known as Trousseau), Alvaralhão, Souzão, and Tintã Cão. The wine is estate-grown in a 16-acre vineyard contiguous to Woodbridge Winery and is handcrafted and estate-bottled by our winemaking team. We have been experimenting with traditional, handcrafted Port-style wine since we founded Woodbridge Winery in 1979. The selection of the finest brandy, and the timing of the additions for greatest complexity, contribute to our own unique style. In 1999, we aged each variety separately in small oak barrels for 20 months before marrying the wines to create our Portacinco. •VINTAGE• The La Nina weather pattern of the 1999 vintage provided a cool growing season, developing lush flavors and velvety tannins in the grapes. We began crushing a few early-ripening varieties in late August, though the grapes just trickled in until mid-September when harvest finally began in earnest. From then on, it was a very intense harvest with many varieties ripening simultaneously, yet it progressed smoothly. We crushed the last gondola of grapes from the Central Coast on November 18. The yields were small, 20-50% below normal, but the flavor intensity was remarkable. •VINEYARDS• Our Portacinco is one of a very few Port-style wines in California made from traditional Portuguese varieties. When we began our program, we combed the state for these varieties but discovered such plantings were extremely limited. We began planting a four-and-a-half-acre vineyard with five grape varieties--Touriga Nacional, Bastardo, Alvaralhão, Souzão and Tintã Cão. It was very difficult to find bud-wood for the vineyard and our only source of certified vines was the University of California at Davis. We now have a 16-acre vineyard planted to 55% Touriga Nacional, 25% Souzão, 14% Alvaralhão, 5% Bastardo and 1% Tintã Cão vines. The Touriga Nacional gives our Portacinco lush blackberry character; the Bastardo contributes a full-bodied mouthfeel with nutty caramel nuances. Alvaralhão enhances the black cherry nose and dark chocolate finish; Souzão provides rich fruit and color, plus tannin and backbone. Tintã Cão contributes delicate berry and herbal notes. •WINEMAKING• We fermented each grape variety separately at 80-85°F. until the wine reached the desired residual sugar of 12° Brix. During the fermentation, we added quality brandy several times to slow fermentation and, finally, to arrest yeast activity. We made a total of four brandy additions in the winemaking process, including one at the time of crushing. After gentle pressing in a traditional basket press, the wine was aged in older French and American oak barrels for 22 months. After blending the five components, we bottled the wine without fining or filtration to capture the silky texture and full spectrum of flavors. The 1999 Portacinco was then bottle-aged for several more years before release.
Thirty years ago, Robert Mondavi set out to establish a wine culture in America by putting great California wine on every table. Invigorated by the success of Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley, in 1979 he established the Woodbridge Winery near his childhood home of Lodi, California.
First of all, this is a full 750 ml bottle, not a half bottle. As someone who’s not a huge port fan, my first reaction was “it’s not bad.” But after a few more sips, it really grew on me. My cousin, who’s an avid port fan, took a taste and said “ooh, that’s really good.” I haven’t been back to GO since the wine sale, so I don’t know if there’s any left, but if you’re into port I would definitely recommend this. One word of caution: the high alcohol content (20%) will sneak up on you if you’re not careful.