Wine of the Month Club | The Best Ports I Have Tasted
Paul: Welcome to the continuing winemakers series of the Wine of the Month Club. Last week, we brought you Champagnes for the holidays, and I must bring you ports because I love port during the holidays, and actually any celebration.
Kevin: Oh, it’s great.
Paul: I have Kevin Epicurean Wines here with us. And he and I have been tasting these ports for years and I have not featured them and I decided in this show, we’re going to do it.
Kevin: Thank God, Paul. It’s about time.
Paul: We’ve been through a lot of samples, haven’t we?
Kevin: Yes, we have.
Paul: In fact the other day, I was in the market and a woman was walking out with this exact bottle. These are all half bottles we’re going to be talking about the Wine of the Month Club. And this white port, and I said, “This is really good wine.”
Kevin: Oh, it’s amazing.
Paul: She said, “I’m glad you told me that because I haven’t had it yet.” I said, “You’re going to like it.” So we’re talking about ports today. Ports are fortified wines from Portugal.
Paul: Now port like champagne should be, port though which is the word, we don’t use it. We don’t use it in California, do we?
Kevin: No, it’s from Oporto which is the city in Portugal.
Paul: Right. So, in California, you’ll see Port used on a bottle but it’s really not meant to infringe on Porto which is from Portugal, just like champagne is from France. We really shouldn’t be using the word champagne California, so we use sparkling wine. But it is wine. It is being made. They use indigenous grapes and they will pour grape brandy into the fermentation process as the wine’s fermenting. And that kills the fermentation.
Kevin: Exactly. It kind of ramps it up to 20%. It came back to the Hundred Years War with France and they couldn’t get French wine so they went to Portugal, Paul. And so they added the dry brandy to bring up to 20% through the long journey to England.
Paul: Ah, so it would help on the boat trip because all the wines…
Kevin: Exactly. Yeah, they would totally wouldn’t make it but Port, if you fortify it, it would last the journey and people were very happy to drink when it got to England.
Paul: It’s fun how these things come about, you know.
Kevin: It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Paul: So White Port which is a pretty rare, it’s a rare animal. You don’t see a lot of it but I love it. And this particular wine is kind of semisweet. It doesn’t have a lot of sweetness.
Kevin: Semisweet, it’s a little bit dry. It’s a Malvasia Fina which is the main grape varietal. It’s something which I’m excited about because it’s got a nice kind of minerality. It’s a little bit sweet but it’s got a dry finish and it mixes well with tonic water, Paul.
Paul: That’s so good. The sweetness, the balance is so perfect on this wine. It’s not too dry. It’s just a hint of sweetness. I like the idea with the tonic water, a quinine mixer, little bubbles in there just [inaudible 2:30] sort of get your appetite going.
Kevin: It’s great. It’s good before and after a meal. It’s something which is on a hotter day. You’re in Southern California. It’s a great pairing to like a nice meal.
Paul: It’s got some nutty character to it still.
Kevin: It does. It does. It’s got a little bit of nuttiness, a little hint of like some acidity on the background.
Kevin: And a little bit of bitterness but just enough, not too much.
Paul: Great balance. This is $11.99 at the Wine of the Month Club. It’s on the website. Put Kopke into. It’s K-O-P-K-E in the search bar. You’ll get all five of these that we’re going to taste here. But the white one is just the fun [inaudible 3:11] wine. And I think maybe with some kind of lighter cheese dessert or cheese after a meal.
Kevin: It’s actually very flexible. You can do with like a cheese course. You can pair it almost with like a lot of foods as the main course because it’s not very overpowering.
Paul: Really good, really good. Now we move in to the Tawnys which are in this case, the Colheitas. These are vintage ports, the ports that carry a date. Not every year do they make a vintage port. The Consortium of Ports Makers has to decide that this is a vintage they wanted to declare and make the wine. If they don’t declare the vintage, they will take the same juice and they will blend it to make 10, 20, or 30, and that’s the average year of that bottle, right?
Kevin: Exactly. The Colheita is the single vintage, in this case from 1980, an excellent year. What this does is it kind of showcases the year plus the master blender. You don’t call the winemaker in port. You call them master blender. And how he makes the port. The great thing about these are they oxidize in casks like a whisky [inaudible 4:10] so you end up with a port which can last for several months without going bad.
Paul: And the older they are, the softer they are, the color turns a little browner, the dimensions, the flavor start to really start to develop. They start to change.
Kevin: It goes more from like a nutty character to more of a citrus quality.
Paul: That’s right.
Kevin: The acidity kind of raises and they actually pair quite well with many different kinds of food. Some of the creators I’ve had with like a Tuna Tartar.
Paul: Really? That’s interesting.
Kevin: Yeah. Isn’t that amazing?
Kevin: You wouldn’t think so. But the acidity pairs so well with the fattiness of the tuna, also like a rare roast beef with say like a horse radish.
Kevin: The sweetness, the acidity, the horse radish pairs so well.
Paul: I have a friend that will not have port without walnuts and blue cheese.
Kevin: Oh, you can’t go wrong. I mean that’s like a no brainer. That’s like beer and peanuts.
Paul: It sure does.
Kevin: It’s excellent.
Paul: We opened, my father actually opened up, I have the bottle here, a port on the year 2000 when all the computers were going down.
Paul: The world was going to go in uproar, and we opened. While that was happening, we just opened a bottle of 1900 Newport Port.
Kevin: Oh wow! That’s a amazing.
Paul: It was amazing.
Kevin: Wow! That’s a great thing I’ve had to back like in 1800s. These things last so long. Today, we’re going to go back to 1957.
Paul: Oh, I know. Do they have a ’58? They don’t?
Kevin: They do actually.
Paul: Oh, that’s my…
Kevin: It’s really good actually.
Paul: [Inaudible 5:44] my birth year.
Kevin: Yes. Come on, Paul, you look much younger.
Paul: Thank you. Like I said [inaudible 5:49] port. Anyway, this has got a nice sort of citrus-y finish. Not in that like lemony but it just got a nice crisp acidity and slight hand of nuttiness in the front palette. Now you look at the color. This is by the way the 1980, it’s $16.99. They’re on our website. And it’s available in half bottles. Everything’s half bottles including this ’57, even though we’re showing a full bottle here, it’s the half bottle, 275 milliliters. And look at the color difference.
Kevin: It’s amazing. You know, Paul, when you go back in time with the ports, you don’t always get with wine, the color tends to lessen. With Colheita Ports, that’s not always the case. It depends on the vintage. The ’57 rock star vintage, amazing. The length, the complexity, the layers of fruit on this are just mind boggling.
Paul: That is amazing wine. We serve it in a [inaudible 6:40] or port glass. Usually, it’s the same shape as this but it’s about one-third the size. And so it’s not something to be consumed in volumes. It’s to be shared, and sipped, and enjoyed.
Kevin: Absolutely. I mean it’s something during the holidays. I mean be with friends. It’s something you can open after dinner, before dinner. It’s a beautiful treat just because you can kind of let it linger on the palette and it dances around the tongue. It really gives people I think the complexity of 50 plus years of aging in the cask which most people don’t get to experience.
Paul: Wow! It’s just the weight is gorgeous on the tongue. And the flavors keep coming. I get a little almond, I get a little walnuts, I get a little bit of a citrus hint. The acidity’s citrus acidity here, right? It doesn’t take like lemons and wines but it’s got this acidity that comes from that kind of citrus.
Kevin: It’s amazing. I mean the one port of ’57 that, Paul, when I taste it, I tell people give it a minute because it dances on the palette. It kind of pops up in the nooks and crannies of your mouth.
Kevin: And it really is something that’s unbelievable wine.
Paul: It really is super. Thank you for bringing that.
Paul: That is $224.99 and on our website. I know it’s expensive. It’s a half bottle but it will last so it’s not like your regular wine that will denigrate after a few days in the bottle. Now, we also have a, we didn’t bring the ’78 right?
Paul: That’s okay. We have ’78 as well in the website that’s $69.99, another gorgeous bottle of Colheita Port. I tasted a dozen ports, I think?
Kevin: Yeah. The ’78 to me, it’s like, as far as something which is and is as old as ’57, but it’s obviously a little bit older than the ’80, excellent, amazing. It’s got a little bit more complexity than the ’80 but it’s something that I mean during the holidays, with the food pairing, it’s great for after dinner and things like that.
Paul: Great. All of them are great. Now we’re moving on to Ruby Ports which when you go to a market, you go to the shelves, you see Tawnys, you see Ten years, you see 20 years, and hopefully, we sorted that out for you. The vintage ports, the vintage ports, the Colheitas, the 10, 20, 30 year ports are the average age of the ports that are in that bottle. And that’s the juice from the vintage that are not declared.
Paul: And now we’re moving on to Ruby Ports which are what?
Kevin: Well, the thing about Ruby Ports, Paul, is they’re not Tawnys. A lot of people say, “Oh, Port is Port.” But no, it’s not. The Tawny ports that we tried, the Colheitas which are the single vintage Tawnys. And when we go into the Fine Ruby, we’re dealing with something much more like a wine, Paul. It’s a very intense concentrated, something which is bottle aged. So this is something that when you open this, it’s probably good for maybe a week or something like that. But it’s not going to last the months that the Colheitas do.
Paul: Because it’s definitely grape beer.
Paul: And because it’s aged in the bottle as opposed to the cask where the cask is going to oxygenate more, it’s going to age more, it’s going to turn more. But this is the typical Port you’ll find in most markets. These are Ruby Ports. They’re kind of redder in the glass. You can tell by that just when you pour. You can see here. But they have got great position in the world of gastronomy because they have that fruit character that goes better with dessert type environment like a custard or maybe a crème brûlée.
Kevin: Oh, perfect for that, Paul. I mean whereas the Tawnys and the Colheitas are going to work more well with I think something which has got the acidity, this has not got the high acidity of the Tawnys but it’s got the depth and the concentration of a really fine Ruby Port.
Paul: Very good. Really good. I didn’t want to spill that one.
Kevin: Oh, [inaudible 10:14].
Paul: That’s a $11.99 as well on the website. This is the KOPKE Fine Ruby Port. All of them are 375 milliliter bottles, gorgeous wines. Kevin, I appreciate your time out here today.
Kevin: Thank you, Paul.
Paul: Thank you so much.
Kevin: Yup. Good holidays.
Paul: And we’ll see you in the next one. Have a Merry Christmas!
Kevin: Take care.
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