Typing this while overly enjoying three new Port Wines: Two of which may never appear on the wine list…but YOU know of them, so ask to try!
Port wines…the legendary wines from that slice of land on the Iberian Peninsula. The origin of port is tied to bad drinking water and the 100 Years War between France and England. Wine has two original purposes: enjoyment of alcohol and the purification of drinking water (a little wine to water and the acids and the alcohol kill bacteria). In France, they grow a lot of grapes and make lots of wine. In England, especially back then, the weather hasn’t been conducive for growing grapes.
War is nasty. And France cut off England’s “water supply” by stopping the flow of wine from most of Europe to England. The hot trip from the Iberian Peninsula caused most of the wine to spoil. When English wine traders discovered fortified wine, wine in which brandy is added to stop fermentation, they found a wine that both resisted spoilage, tasted good, and had a higher alcohol concentration. Immediately English brokers set up shop to distribute this newly discovered wine back home, which is why today many of the fine Port wines have English brand names like “Dow” and “Cockburn.”
Yeast can essentially ferment wine up to 17.5% alcohol. Any concentration of alcohol above this number is effectively poison for the yeast and they simply die. The addition of brandy, or distilled wine to concentrations above 17.5% effectively end fermentation. A standard wine practice is to add enough brandy to insure our alcohol concentration is 18% or higher, but not above 22%. Why no more than 22%? Easy, above 22% and the wine simply tastes to much like alcohol and burns too much for a great many of us.
This past week, we bottled three ports, the Pop’s Port #11, Pop’s Port #12 and the Pop’s Port “No Number”.
Pop’s Port #11 and Pop’s Port “No Number” will never be on the wine list. You can purchase a bottle or two or more for $30 and $45 a bottle and you can try it free at the winery, but it will never appear on the list. Our staff will never suggest you try it either, so you have to ASK to try. That’s the advantage of our email mailing list. You are privy to special wines.
And the name “Pop’s Port” is in honor of my father, Ray.
Pop’s Port #11 is pure zinfandel, and pure AHHHHH!!! Aged a year in American oak barrels, the vanilla notes just jump right out at ya. There’s complex fruit in the nose, but don’t ask me what. Whatever it is, it certainly smells inviting. This one’s at 21% so I can definitely smell the brandy. But it’s a balanced smell…like it belongs. As I taste the Port, I get this velvety feel, coating my tastebuds in a savory sensation. It’s just a pure silky enjoyment. So why will it never be on the list? Simple–we bottled 14 cases. Because….
Pop’s Port #12, which will be on the list, is a blend of the zin port plus a barrel of sweeter cabernet franc. In the blending process, we needed it first, to taste great, and second, make sure we were at the 18% alcohol range to stabilize the wine and to legally bottle it as port. Our assistant Christine and I blended this one and we simply nailed it. I simply smell pure vanilla coated cherries. So inviting. Some strawberry and raspberry too! I can’t ID the fruit of the zin port, but this one’s flavors seemingly just shout out at every chance. The taste: Intensely fruity, super smooth, super soft, super luscious. Just super enjoyable. As Laura said, this is going to be dangerous at the bonfire on November 5th!
And then there’s the “No Number.” Since all Port’s are sequentially numbered, how come this one doesn’t get a number? Simple. Max’s Small Batch Red line of dry reds once had a “no number”. And that Max’s red was so incredibly complex, so unique that it had to stand out in a significant way. It too was never on the list, and we sold out, no problem.
So what is so unique about this one? The Pop’s Port No Number is our second Tawny Port. Our first one aged 2 years before bottling. This one? How about TEN YEARS! If you are now legal to drink wine, you may have been in the 5th grade when we picked these grapes.
A Tawny port has a more brownish color due to a very controlled way in which we oxidize the wine over time. We made this wine in stainless steel for exact control of aeration, added brandy near dryness to allow the more rustic flavors of aging to shine through, then added small oak staves to tank, 2 and 3 at a time, over the course of 10 years. The oak is not heavily pronounced but its tannins assisted in adding subtle flavors and greatly assisted in adding age worthiness to the process. When I pour a sample, I can pick up some vanilla, but it’s the fruit of the muscat grape that beams forth. What a tantalizing aroma. The age, the fall season earthiness. To heck with drinking this wine, just smell it! Geez! Upon sipping, this wine EXPLODES WITH FLAVOR in my mouth. The dynamics on my tongue keep changing with unknown flavors overwrapping and enveloping other flavors. The finish just goes on and on. I swish the wine in my mouth and I swear my teeth can taste it. This is insane wine! Just insane. Good golly. Stop drinking this. I need to cut grass tonight! As I smell the supposedly empty glass, a whirlwind of spicy and savory aromas grip my nose. Another AHHH…moment. We didn’t make much as aging a wine 10 years is risky, takes up space and is heck on wheels to cash flow. But oh was it worth it!
So stop by sometime soon and try these ports…