We are talking about Port wine, not a port in the storm, or a cruise. My love for Port wine blossomed when I was golfing in Portugal some years ago. Each day, after a round of golf on the beautiful Algarve, Mr. Mike and I went hunting for vintage Ports. We found many, but the prices were rather shocking. So, as I have told you numerous times, we had to get creative.
Here is a great insight into Port wine from Winespeed:
The only Ports that need decanting are those that throw a sediment. These include two of the major styles: Vintage Port and Single-Quinta Vintage Port. None of the other major styles (Tawny, Reserve, or Late-Vintage Bottled) throw a sufficient sediment. Vintage Port is made only in exceptional years when Port shippers “declare” a vintage. A vintage Port may come from grapes from several quintas (renowned vineyard estates) as well as grapes grown by dozens of small, individual grape growers. Vintage Ports are first aged just two years in barrel, to round off their powerful edges. Then they are aged reductively (with only the tiniest amount of oxygen) for a long time in the bottle. A decade’s worth of aging is standard, and several decades used to be fairly common. To maintain the intensity, balance, and richness of vintage Port, it is neither fined nor filtered. This, coupled with the fact that Port grapes have thick skins and a lot of tannin, means that vintage Port throws a great deal of sediment, and always needs to be decanted.
In the years a shipper chooses not to declare a year as vintage quality, the grapes that would have gone into vintage Port are often used to make a Single-Quinta Vintage Port. The idea behind these Ports is that the very best vineyard estates are often located in special mesoclimates that allow exceptional wines to be made even in years when the vintage as a whole may not be declared. Apart from blending, Single-Quinta Vintage Ports are made in the same manner as Vintage Ports, so that the wine must eventually be decanted.Locally, we have some ports: Port wines dating back to the 1940’s fill the wine library at Ficklin Vineyards in Madera County. Recently, the oldest port winery in America received an invitation to send their wine to the U.S. embassy in London.
“Across the pond, it went. it feels very good to be accepted into an area that is very traditional with port. So us a little California winery that specializes in that,” said Peter Ficklin of Ficklin vineyards.
Peter Ficklin says the Old Vine Tinta and Aged 10 Years Tawny Port was sent to the Embassy. They had to jump through some hoops to get the wine shipped..
The winery started with Ficklin’s father and started in 1946. The family buys Portuguese grape varieties from California and makes the wine in Madera County.
“Each variety brings a different set of flavors to the table so we have the opportunity to blend and bring those flavors together in the finished product,” Ficklin said.
If you have a favorite port, please let me know.