During several of our tastings this year, we have needed to open some very old wines; this can sometimes result in disaster IF you are not prepared for 'crumbly' old corks. The link below will take you to a tried-and-true method for your use, if/when needed.
First Flight: Douro Table wines Many of these are made by same firms/families which make Port (reds #2-5, for example); most use the top-rated grape varieties authorized for Ports.
Table Wines 1.Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas Achados e Perdidos (“Lost & Found”) Douro DOC 2014 (100% Codega do Larinho) Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas means: (“full moon in old vineyards”) This wine was dry with ‘tropical fruit’ aromatics, with just enough acidity, and at 12% alcohol, it had a refreshing quality. ($13/bottle Suburban Wines)
2.Quinta de la Rosa Douro DOC 2011 (40% Touriga Nacional; 30% Tinta Roriz; 30% Touriga Franca) It was aged in French barriques 9 months. It’s a very modern-style red, with 14.5% alcohol. It’s made by a small-ish scale Port producer. Reported to have a nice offering of accommodations if you’re visiting the Duoro. ($19.55/bottle Mid Valley Wine)
3.Quinta do Crasto Douro DOC Reserva Vinhas Velhas 2009 (From the cellar of Club members Vinny & Gerry DiPompei; no information about the varietal blend available) Produced from grapes harvested from 70 year-old vines; only 6,000-7,000 cases made per year; the estate has100 acres with 42 different plots, but only a small amount of these grapes are used to make this wine. It spent 18 months in French (85%) and American oak (15%) barrels; like #2 this has 14.5% alcohol. The American oak is evident even if only 15% was used to age the wine. (online ~$37-45)
►The next two wines were reviewed by Eric Asimov in an article in the NY Times 7-27-16
4.Quinta do Infantado Douro DOC (2009) [reviewed 2012 Vintage as #5 pick] (30% T. Nacional; 30% Touriga Franca; 30% Tinta Roriz; 10% “other red”) From vineyards in the Cima Corgo, rated “Class A”; elevation 800-1150 feet asl. This wine is made from a “field blend” (all varietals fermented together). This was a much lighter wine than #2 and #3, with correspondingly more acidity and only 12% Alcohol. If tasted blind, this would probably NOT be thought to be from the Douro. ($18.00/All-Star Wine & Liquor, Albany)
5.Niepoort Redoma Tinto Douro DOC (2013)Asimov article: [#2 wine, same vintage] (Tinta Amarela; Touriga Franca; Rufete [late-ripening]; Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao + “others”) This turned out to be the favorite of the red table wines for several members, with a moderate 13.5% alcohol, and a floral quality not often noted in red wines. It has good balance, and has some complexity. It was made from old-vine fruit, subsequently fermented as a field blend. ($40/bottle Empire Wine & Liquor, Albany)
1756: Douro became the first vineyard area in the world to become legally demarcated! There is a multiplicity of Port styles (Tawny, Ruby, White, etc), and a staggering range of grape varieties (~90) Consequently most producers use many varietals in a single wine and typically don’t list them on the label. As I found out, they don’t list them on their websites, either. Somewhat unique ‘Port process’ (partial fermentation, foot treading of grapes, fortification, ageing, etc) Concept of a Quinta: Anything from a humble family farm to a “grand-cru-like” (.01%!) single vineyard Vintage “declarations”: Only great vintages; not all producers declare in any given year because they have different vineyard locations/situations and somewhat different weather.
6.Quinta do Infantado White Porto Gouveio, Viosinho, and Rabigato (website); Viosinho, Rabigato, Moscatel Galego (label) Moscatel Galego = Muscat Blanc a petit grains Same producer as red table wine #4. The wine is aged 3 years in oak barrels before bottling and release; vineyards are “Class A”, near Pinhao (Cima Corgo). The grapes are foot-trodden. This wine seems quite sweet compared to the previously-tasted table wines, but isn’t very sweet compared to the red Ports. It has real complexity from the barrel ageing and from the varietal blend. ($20.00/bottle Kingston Wine Company, Kingston- near the Rondout)
7. Taylor-Fladgate 10- year Tawny Porto Tawny Ports are made of various aged single-year Ports blended together. 10-year Tawnies are aged in used oak barrels for an average of 10 years. This one has a nutty complexity and moderate tannins. Tawny Ports are a good choice for those who like to have just an occasional glass; because of the oxidation that takes place in barrels, they deteriorate MUCH more slowly after opening (if kept refrigerated). ($33/bottle Mid Valley Wine)
8. Warre’s Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2003 (bottled in 2007) [2003 was an excellent and widely-declared vintage in the Douro. Extreme heat was the rule in most of Europe, and many European white wines had low acidity and were quite short-lived.] Warre’s was the first British Port company, established in 1670! This wine was aged 4 years in used barrels; bottled unfiltered/unfined in 2007, then aged an additional 4 years in bottle before release (very unusual and expensive for the producer). Unlike most “LBV Ports”, it can be bottle-aged by the consumer- it has a regular cork (for laying down), not a crown cork. This would, notwithstanding its barrel-ageing time, be considered a Ruby type, as its color attests. It has intense flavors & fruit, and rather high tannin levels, recommending further ageing. ($33/bottle Mid Valley Wine)
9. Fonseca Vintage Porto 1977 (from cellar of the late Frank Turene) Little info is available on the varietal content of Ports in general, and especially wines this old. Bottled 1979. We certainly enjoyed it! It was probably my second-favorite Port ever (after the 1963 Taylor-Fladgate), with fully-resolved tannins, a peacock’s tail of aromas and flavors, and color reminiscent of an old Tawny Port. The Club, thanks to the efforts of Arnie Serotsky and of course to the acquisition habits of the late Frank Turene, was able to purchase this wine from Frank’s heirs for far less than its current ‘auction price’ range. (upwards of $200/bottle on-line)