Monday, May 9, 2011

Not all Port Is Sweet

A few weeks ago I received a couple of bottles of wine from my friends at Calhoun and Company, a marketing and communications firm that represents some of the world’s finest vintners.

When I opened the box I read the labels, which said that the wines were from Portugal. I have to admit I kind of set the box aside, thinking that I wasn’t really in the mood to drink or write about “Port” wines. Little did I know the treasure that I laid down beside my desk.

Finally, this week, I pulled the bottles out of the box and took a good long look at them. The vintages were a 2008 Vale do Bomfim, and a 2008 Prazo de Roriz, also from Northern Portugal.

Still, not taking a close enough look, I pulled the cork and proceeded to taste the Bomfim just to get myself in the mood. Wow! I suddenly realized that I wasn’t dealing with a bottle of fortified wine from Portugal. I was dealing with a rich and complex wines made from Portuguese varietals.

Vineyards that supply the famous wines that we know and love here in the states as “Port” also produce table wines that are enjoyed by the locals and their favored guests. As for the Vale do Bomfim, the Symington Family’s Douro Valley Vineyards produce the grapes for Dow’s Port wines.

For many years they have held back a portion to blend for themselves and enjoy with their meals. Recently, the family made a decision to make this non-fortified blend available to the world market. I am happy to be one of the first in this region to taste this fantastic wine.

Vale do Bomfim is made from a blend of Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca. The grapes are all picked by hand, fermented in steel, and aged in American Oak for 9 months. The color is very dark purple, with a nose of herbs and spice. This wine fills the mouth with dark wild berries, herbs, and spice. A very exotic blend of wine, with soft tannins on the finish.

I found this bottle to be better on the second day, and even better on the third as it had the opportunity to open up and get some air. I suggest decanting this wine, and serving it with chorizo or your favorite barbeque. The recipe that I received with my kit was for blue cheese burgers, which sounds like an awesome pairing.

The Prazo de Roriz comes from one of the oldest estates in the Douro (Northern) region. Dating back to the early 1700s, this estate is known for its single vintage Ports.

Much like the Bomfim, the Roriz pours into the glass a very dark, rich purple. Its blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Francisca shows up in the glass with a nose of black cherry and dark plums. This wine shows a gentle supple quality that allows the fruit to show through beautifully. Soft tannins finish this wine with a velvety texture.

The pairing suggestion for this wine was a Grilled Chicken with hot sauce marinade. I think it would go nicely with this or with lamb chops, or even a nice T-bone steak.

These wines are soon to come to this region, priced at $12 for the Bomfim, and $17 for the Roriz, I would definitely suggest them on your table this summer.


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