Taste of Wine: Go first class with a glass of port

Taste of Wine: Go first class with a glass of port
Port, shown above, is a fortified wine with Brandy added early in the fermentation process to keep sugar levels high and increase alcoholic content. Photos by Frank Mangio

Port is the world’s most notable fortified wine. Its base can be a number of different red varietal grapes, but it is always fortified (added to the wine) with brandy, to give the drink a sweeter, more alcoholic taste. Port traditionally is served after dinner-enhancing desserts. It is at its best when served with exotic cheeses like a Gorgonzola blue cheese, or an English cheddar. Gouda is also a favorite with Port, as well as Gruyere, Switzerland.

Port’s origins are the valleys in the northern provinces of Portugal, namely the Douro Valley. Under European protection laws, only the wines from Portugal can be called Port or Porto, the city where these wines are made. Some of it takes decades to mature, not in keeping with today’s wine buyer and the “drink now” demands. You will see the word “quinta” on the label. It means farm in Portuguese to refer to the estate or vineyard from where it came in the Douro Valley. The red grapes to look for on the label are Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (commonly known as Tempranillo in Spain) and Touriga Nacional.

North County Beermeister Edgar Engert inspects one of over 60 beers from the 2016 Carlsbad Brewfest. This year, the date is Sept. 9 from noon to 4:30 p.m.

The most pronounced flavors in Port are fruitcake, licorice, chocolate and toffee. Vintage Port is the most prominent and expensive of the various types of port (Graham $60). I personally prefer Tawny Port, usually labeled 10, 20 or 30 years old and should be served chilled. It has a distinctly different flavor than the Vintage, displaying hints of caramel, hazelnut, almond and cinnamon. After at least six years of cask aging, they are ready to drink now (Graham 20 year $40).

The English developed the popularity of Port in the 17th century and preserved the wines for the long voyage back to England with Brandy, a process that still lives today.

It’s important to know that a Port style can be made anywhere and California has its share of fine tasting Port style wines. Pedroncelli Winery, which recently celebrated its 90th Anniversary making wine in Geyserville, Sonoma California has been making Vintage Port since 1995 (before the name Port was prohibited outside of Portugal.) Four varietals of Portuguese grapes are used. The present vintage is 2012 ($20 at the winery) and was aged in oak for four years, giving it a flavorful, rich toffee plum taste, and offered in a 500 ml bottle. See pendroncelli.com.

In San Diego County, Brooking Vineyards in Vista grows and bottles a Port-style wine which is rich, sweet and robust. The latest is the 2014 Tempranillo Angelica grown on the estate. Vista, at one time, was a robust center for fortified wine before prohibition and public taste diminished the demand.

Eric Brooking is the historian for this era of wine making and can be reached at (760) 689-0160.


The Carlsbad Brewfest is coming Sept. 9

More than 60 of the finest craft beers and ciders will be ready to pour at the fourth annual Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club’s Brewfest, set to take flight in Carlsbad’s Holiday Park, Saturday Sept. 9 from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Plenty of live music, games, seminars and food vendors will complete a great afternoon in the park, located off the I-5 and Carlsbad Village Drive exit.

New Belgium Brewing is back as stage sponsor, pouring their craft creations.

Other well-known names include: Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, Hess, Firestone, Booze Brothers, Coronado Brewing, Belching Beaver and many more.

Local restaurants will have food for sale.

Several North San Diego County charities will benefit.

Tickets are on sale now at the festival’s website, carlsbsadbrewfest.org and cost $50 each. Special low price for designated drivers.


Wine Bytes

Registration and ticket sales are now open for the 14th annual San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival planned for Nov. 12 to Nov. 19. More than 40 citywide tasting experiences have been finalized. Wines, spirits, culinary personalities and gourmet foods are on the schedule. See all there is to enjoy and ticket sales at sandiegowineclassic.com.

Arterra Restaurant in the Del Mar Marriott has an evening of Veuve Clicquot Champagne at great discount prices from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 29, on the clock! Prices start at $5 a glass at 5 p.m. and increase a dollar each hour. Details at (858) 369-6032.

Vittorio’s in Carmel Valley San Diego has a Jax wine dinner at 6 p.m. Aug. 31. Jax is a rising Napa Valley winery that will get your attention. Cost is $54.95 each. Call (858) 538-5884 for details.

Capri Blu restaurant in Rancho Bernardo has a William & Helm Napa Valley wine dinner at 6 p.m. Sept. 6. This is a five0course dinner with five wines, from Chardonnay to an “Entendre” blend. Cost is $60 per person. Call (858) 673-5100 for an RSVP.


Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. View his columns at http://thecoastnews.com. Go to menu than column. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.



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