June 26, 2006

Summer is Port time

Ah, summertime. It’s 100F out but I’m here in the cool basement thinking about Port. Typically thought of only in the cold winter months, Port is good any time of year.

Especially when a certain someone recently gifts you special Port glasses like mine did me. My new glasses are like tiny champagne flutes, only a bit wider in relation. They present wine in a pleasing way, though pretty much any glass will do.

Two wines I’ve enjoyed lately are predictably cheap, or should I say inexpensive. One more so than the other, though naturally it ain’t as good. And mind you, I’m writing about real Port, not the fake stuff from around the world labelled as such. Much of that can be quite good, but it’s not real Port even if they use the traditional grapes of Touriga Nacional and its Tinta friends.

First is the NV Broadbent Auction Reserve Lot 1, a blend of wines 4 to 7 years old that sells for $10 per 375ml. This is essentially ruby Port, a lighter, early drinking style of vintage Port without much of its grip or intensity.

The wine smells a bit alcoholic, but even the Broadbent Selectionsliterature admits so. And it seems to fit the rustic, traditional profile of the wine. Just serve it cool and you’ll be set. It has an otherwise pleasing aroma of preserved plums and spice, with simple but mouthfilling flavors, a bit sweet but balanced with light tannin and acidity. This is not refined port but it satisfies. It’s terrific patio or camping wine for drinking now.

Broadbent Selections labels the Auction Reserve from the well-regarded producer Niepoort, which makes my other recent favorite.

The 1998 Niepoort Late Bottled Vintage is "traditionally" bottled LBV but made in a more modern style than the Auction Reserve. Traditionally, LBVs are bottled 4 years after harvest where Vintage Port is bottled at 2 years. Both are intended to age in bottle, LBVs maturing sooner for their extended cask time and their realtively lighter intensity.

The ’98 Niepoort LBV has a dark purplish red color with a fresh fruit aroma, much like a modern Portugese table wine, mixed with nice pepper, spirit, and otherwise classic “Port” aromas. In the mouth, the wine is moderately sweet with grape, plum, light pepper and leather flavors, mild tannins and good length. If you don’t mind the more modern, grapey style, this wine is impressive. It’s a little over $20 for a 750ml bottle, and you might find a different vintage, but trust the producer. This is something you can cellar for a few years, or bring to a dinner party.

Even if it's 100 degrees. Who doesn't love someone who shows up with good Port?

No comments: