Bentley’s Grill Wine Steward Mark Jacklich is continuing his studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers through 2012. In addition, he plans to spend a lot of time working with Jim Bernau’s team at Willamette Valley Vineyards and learn more about the process from grapes to wine full circle. Mark is eager to share his knowledge with you in an educational series we call: Wine Notes with Mark. Enjoy!
Today I would like to take some time to talk about Port wine. Also known as Vinho do Porto, and Porto.
Traditionally, Port is a Portuguese, fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. Port is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, and comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.
Port is produced from grapes, then fortified by the adding a neutral grape spirit in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol percentage between 18-20%. With so many different styles that are offered I would like to emphasis on a few of the more popular choices.
Tawny Ports are wines, made from red grapes, that are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to small amounts of oxidation which induces evaporation. As a result, they gradually mellow to a golden-brown color. The exposure to oxygen imparts “nutty” flavours to the wine, which is blended to match the house style.Tawny ports are sweet or medium dry and typically consumed as a dessert wine
Ruby port is the cheapest and most widely produced type of port. After fermentation, it is stored in tanks made of concrete or stainless steel to prevent oxidative aging and preserve its rich claret color. The wine is usually blended to match the style of the brand to which it is to be sold. The wine is fined (clarification and stabilization) and cold filtered before bottling and does not generally improve with age.
Vintage port is made entirely from the grapes of a declared vintage year and accounts for about two percent of overall port production. 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. The decision to declare a vintage is made by each individual port house, often referred to as a “shipper”.
The port industry is one where reputations are hard won and easily lost, so the decision is never taken lightly. During periods of recession and war, potential “declarations” have sometimes been missed for economic reasons. In recent years, some shippers have adopted the “chateau” principle for declarations, declaring all but the worst years. More conventional shippers will declare, on average, about three times a decade.
Here at Bentley’s we have at least one of each of the highlighted styles above available by the glass. So next time you are too full for slice of Black Out Cake or Milky Way Mosaic torte, a nice Port might be the way to satisfy that sweet-tooth. Come see me for some recommendations!