ANCIENT PROVERB PORT. NV – LLORDS & ELWOOD
by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | December 1984
The Ancient Proverb: I Timothy 5:23 ” Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”
The Llords and Elwood story is somewhat unique. The enthusiasm of a wine merchant for his wares overflowed into a new career. The late Mike Elwood was a wine merchant in Los Angeles. He catered to Hollywood stars from the 30’s through the 50’s. Our nation’s present leader used to be one of his customers. He specialized in fine import wines. California wines had not emerged as premium wines at that time. His wine knowledge was catching. Convinced that finer wines can be made in California, he plunged into winemaking in 1955 on a challenge. It is said that Rudolf Weibel (founder of Weibel Vineyards) said to Mike one day: “If you’re so smart, why don’t you prove it!?” and backed his call with an offer to lease portion of his land to him. Mike took him on, and rented space.
The Elwoods (Mike and his son Richard) decided that the most obvious improvements could be made with California sherries and ports. They had their first wine by 1961! It was well received. They were so enthused about their new endeavors that they sold the wine shops and concentrated on wine making. They purchased vineyard acreage and planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Four different small winery locations were added for production and ageing. (Three in Santa Clara Valley, and one in Fresno).
Right from the beginning, the emphasis was on blending. Sherries and ports are a product of the winemakers blending talents. This expertise was extended into the still wines they made. For a long time, their wines were not vintaged but blended batches were designated by cuvee numbers on the label. Only recently, and only on some of their wines, vintage dates have started appearing. The lay consumer seems to think this is a sign of better wine. The wines by Richard Elwood are a proof of this misapprehension. I respect his palate and blending talent. He was a good apprentice under his father.
Traditional port comes from Portugal and the best ports (vintaged) do come from Portugal. Many variations of the wine are being made all over the world. Different grapes are used, variations in process are introduced, and sometimes other names have been introduced. Typically, port is made by fermenting the grape juice of a mixture of designated grapes to about 4 to 6% alcohol and adding grape spirit. This stops the fermentation before all the grape sugar is converted to alcohol. The resultant fortified wine is sweet and contains about 19% alcohol. It is aged in oak casks, blended, and bottled. Vintage port is bottled soon after fermentation, and allowed to age in the bottle. This is only done if the years harvest is declared exceptional)
Ancient Proverb California Port is deep ruby red in color. It has a sweet, fragrant bouquet, with a distinct cherrylike aroma. It is a mouthful of fruit, full bodied, sweet yet not clawing, with a hint of dryness at the finish. Serve at room temperature at the end of a meal. Unsalted, freshly hulled, walnuts or hazelnuts are my favorite accompaniment. Cheddar type cheese, dried figs, or Dublin cake would be quite good too!
Cellaring Notes: Ready to drink. Not intended for ageing.