The 2011 Vintage Port Seminar at Astra, hosted by Please the Palate was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. For those of you who don’t know Port, it is from the Douro Valley in Portugal. It is usually a sweet red wine, but can also come in dry, semi-dry and even white. Port is fortified wine with brandy added to it and can be enjoyed in several different styles such as Ruby, Tawny, and Vintage. Port is either bottle aged (vintage) or wood barrel aged.
Port is very popular as an after dinner drink and pairs beautifully with chocolate and cheese. Many consumers like Ruby or Tawny Port as their beginner drink because it not only pairs so well with desserts and cheeses, but these wines are younger and more fruit forward.
The Port tasting consisted of many companies featuring a 2011 vintage and a vintage from 1980-1991. The beauty of comparing these two vintages is that the 2011’s were so young and still generally closed, when compared to the earlier vintages which were so smooth, raisinated, and showing all of their beauty. Two companies stood out with their selections. Dow’s is a fantastic company that featured a 2011 Vintage Porto and a 1985 Vintage Porto. Both wines were impressive; however, the 2011 still needed a little more time to really develop. Graham’s featured a Port from the 1980 vintage that was beautiful, smooth, and perfectly drinkable. The beauty of Port that you will notice is how nicely it ages and the way it matures inside the bottle. Could you drink the 2011 now? Yes, of course, but it will not give you the same “wow” affect that a Port from the 1990’s or 80’s will.
Remember though, if you are new to Port you may want to start with a Ruby or a Tawny to break you into this unique and powerful, yet classic wine style. Give it a try with a variety of chocolates ranging from milk to dark and maybe some aged cheeses. You will be surprised just how much you can open up your palate to new and wonderful wines.