Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Tuesday Lineup: Ports & Sparkling Wines

Wines of the Week

Not every vintage in Port land is a great one, and in those years - as well as years when more prior vintages have been declared than the markets can absorb - vintage-dated Ports are made from the greatest of the single quintas or vineyards. In theory, these single-quinta Ports should not be as good, both because the year might not have been a superior one and because the selection pool is less than when a Port house declares a vintage.

Yet there are those of us who love the single-quintas because they are the sole expression of one great vineyard. Most masters of Port are hesitant to say so publicly, but many of them love the vineyard-specific Ports as much as their declared vintages. I find my own preferences are influenced by what has just being released for tasting - the vintages or the quintas. This year, the Fladgate Partnership family of Ports released in the United States three of their quintas from the 2008 harvest. All are delicious in their own ways:

2008 Croft Quinta da Roeda ($46). Lots of plump raisin flavors and figs in the foretaste, then walnuty tannins, followed by a minerally, gravelly finish with echoes of dried fruits.

2008 Fonseca Quinta do Panascal ($48). A broader, less-segmented taste of preserved fruits and pistachios. Lots of dusty tannins, tingling black pepper, and hints of freshly-cut tobacco plug. The fruits are a little redder in this one.

2008 Taylor Fladgate Vargellas ($60). A very luscious mouth feel, though not as voluminous. More concentrated, but not more forceful. Less nuttiness. Somewhat of an elegant, pretty wine - a fruity truffle with a dusting of cocoa.

With sparkling wines, Champagne has always played the role of vintage Port - the standard by which others in the category are compared. Yet that is a little like trying to argue that great red wines should all taste like Bordeaux or like Burgundy. Some of the best sparklings I've tasted are Proseccos and spumantes from the Prosecco regions in the hills north of Venice, where terroir is all important. This one certainly can hold its own with any other bubbly:

2009 Adami "Vigneto Giardino Rive di Colbrtaldo" Valodibbiadene Prosecco Superiore Dry ($21). Just a delicious wine - lovely floral nose, intense micro-bubbles with great richness and acidity with flavors of pears, cream, and marzipan followed by a minerally finish with touches of kiwi and citrus.

Wines of Interest

NV Jaillance "Cuvee de l'Abbaye" Cremant de Bordeaux ($19). From 100% Semillon grapes, it has a lot of minerality on the nose, full brioche flavors, not a lot of bubbles, and a minerally finish like drink sparkling wine from a tin cup or a rocky spring.

NV Adami Garbel Treviso Prosecco Brut ($15). Lots of mousse bearing delicate aromas of ripe pears. Creamy at the start and green fruity at the finish - cream & kiwi. Hint of tannins. Very elegant and well-structured if not as complex as some Adami entries.

NV Adami "Bosco di Gica" Valdobbiademe Prosecco Superiore Brut ($18). Beautiful nose - elegant - with hints of cocoanut. Minerally, light in the Champagne style with not as much apparent fruitiness. More of a sipper than a food wine.

NVJaume Serra Cristalino Cava Brut ($10). Note to Champagne and EU authorities: Although this is a nice wine for the price - a clean, assertive cava that can have a lot of holiday uses - I'm didn't really confuse it with Cristal at 10 to 20x. No worries, monsieurs.

Wine Noted

NV Santa Margherita Valdobbiadene Prosecco Brut ($18). Full and a little heavy on the palate. Hints of caramel. More of a food wine than a sipper.

Until next time....

Roger Morris


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