Spotlight on Port!
Port is exclusively (legally) made in the Porto regions of Portugal. Made out of a wide variety of native grape varietals, these fortified wines can have a wide range of flavors and styles. However, there are two things that unite all Ports. They are sweet and much higher alcohol than table wines. This sweetness and alcohol in the finished wine is due to the addition of pure grape spirits after approximately one third of the sugar has been fermented by the yeasts. The increase of alcohol kills off the yeasts and leaves a sweet fortified wine. With the exception of White Ports which are made with white grapes, all other Ports are made with a blend of red grapes from multiple vintages. The big differences come from barrel aging, with Ruby Ports aging for lesser times that Tawny Ports on average, leading to a brighter, easier drinking wine. Vintage Ports are only made in exceptional vintages and can age fantastically in the bottle, producing complex flavors and a complexity not seen in the non-vintage Ports.
Possibly the most elegant and “user-friendly” ports we have are from Niepoort. Here is what they have to say about their Ruby and Tawny Ports:
“At Niepoort we believe that the colour of the Port should be inspired by the “ruby stone”. Ruby ages an average of 3 years. The grapes come from old vineyards in Cima Corgo region of Douro Valley. The wine ages in large wooden casks at Niepoort cellars, in Vila Nova de Gaia. Niepoort Ruby is fresh, young and fruity. An expressive Port with great character. Ruby keeps well for several years, although the wine will not improve with age. No decanting is necessary since the wine contains no sediment. Serve after a meal, by itself or with soft cheese.”
“To produce a Port Wine with a fine and balanced flavour, Niepoort Tawny ages in oak casks for 3,5 years. Freshness, lightness and balance are the key elements of this wine. A Port easy to drink on any occasion. It contains no sediment and does not neet to be decanted. Tawny has a shiny bright colour and soft and sweet tannins. Great with chocolate desserts, cheese like Cheddar, Gouda and Brie, and red meat dishes.”
“Colheitas are dated Tawnies aged in small casks. The minimum age requirement is 7 years, but the tradition at Niepoort is to age several more years before bottling. The wine takes on a Tawny hue. Wood and nutty tones are evident on the palate due to the wine’s slow ageing in old casks. Colheita goes well with dry fruits desserts and the portuguese “Leite Creme queimado”. As a starter, the combination with foie gras is impressive.”
About the 2005 Vintage:
“Superb brick red/brown appearance with medium depth of colour. Very clean fresh aroma with a subdued spicy character and a hint of dried fruits. Refreshing seductive flavours on the palate with dried fruits and a lingering nutty velvety finish on the palate.”