Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, World Sherry Day, How To Start You Wine Book Project, Wine Blog Awards?
It is Meritage Time, and Meritage posts are back!
Let’s start from the answer to the wine quiz #56, What is it? In the quiz, you had a picture of wine-related object, and you were supposed to identify what is it and how it should be used. Here is the picture which was presented to you:
And here is the answer, in the form of another picture:
The object is called port tongs, and they are used to open a bottle of vintage port or any old wine without fighting with the cork. The way to use it is this: you heat up the tongs until red hot, put it around the neck of the bottle underneath of the cork, hold it for some time, then remove and use cube of ice to go around the heated up circle – the glass cracks cleanly and can be removed now.
I really wanted to have such a device, ever since I read the post about old Rioja wines in PJ Wine blog – and now I do. I’m not sure how often or even when am I going to use this device, but – now I can if I want to (freedom is everything, right?)
I’m glad to say that we have two winners – both waywardwine and thedrunkencyclist correctly identified Port tongs in the picture, and the drunkencyclist provided perfect description for how port tonging is done. Congratulations to our winners – both of them get unlimited bragging rights.
Now, to the interesting stuff around the web. First, the World Sherry Day will start on Monday. This is going to be one long day, as it starts on May 20th and lasts through May 26th, but hey, that means that you can drink more sherry during one day. Find the place near you to celebrate, or just grab a bottle and indulge on the beverage which might be easily hundreds years old, and still affordable at the same time. If you need a crash course in Sherry, here is the link to one of my posts (I also plan to talk about sherry in more details at some point in the near future).
Dreaming of writing the wine book, you think you got something to say and you think you can convince people to share your vision? Then take a look at this post by Wink Lorch, where she is talking about her successful fundraising project on Kickstarter for her Jura wine book.
Last interesting note for you – if you remember, a while ago, many of us, wine bloggers, asked for your nomination for the Wine Blog Awards 2013 – and many of us got nominations, for which we profusely thank you, our readers. The interesting part is that the week of May 10 – 17 was designated as voting week for the public, after jury selects 5 finalist blogs for each category – here is the link to the rules for you. Today is May 15th, and it doesn’t look like finalist blogs had been selected and that public can vote on them. Oh well…
That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty. Until the next time – cheers!
Finally, we’re arriving to the culmination point of our Study of Port cycle (here are the links to the previous four posts – post 1, post 2, post 3 and post 4). You probably noticed that while the cycle is called “study of port”, we talked very little about Port wines themselves.
For me, Port is one of the most difficult subjects in wine (of course Burgundy classification and German wines are the crown jewels of “difficult wine subjects”). There are many different styles of wine, overall still collectively called Port. There are Ruby, Tawny, non-vintage, Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage, 10-, 20-, 30-, 40- years old ports, all available in the wide pricing range. On top of everything, Port is considered to be a dessert wine, and at certain point in life, brain just start either outright protesting or at least behave extremely cautiously around anything related to the word “sugar”.
Thus I was determined to use my Porto trip as a learning opportunity and do my best to acquire an understanding of the subject of Port directly from the source (I hope that clarifies the overall name of the theme chosen for this series of posts). Before I arrived to Porto, I sent out a few e-mails and twitter messages to he various Port houses, explaining that I’m a blogger and I would like to learn about Port and taste some of the older vintages. The only person who actually responded to me was Oscar Quevedo from the Quevedo Port house. After a bit of back and force we settled on the date and time.
Once I arrived at the Quevedo Port house… Well, I will not inundate you with the long story, and the short story was that Oscar was not there (but he was very kind to stop by the hotel in the afternoon of the same day and undergo my very intense questioning for 30 minutes). Rachel and Manuel were “running the shop”, and while I was there at the Port house, I read a lot of useful information along the walls (I guess it can be called a self-guided tour), but that still didn’t answer all my questions (like why Vintage port should be consumed within 1 to 3 days from the opening of a bottle, and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV for short) does not. I started asking Rachel and Manuel all of my questions, and I think I drove them both a bit insane – I have to thank them both for their patience with me, especially Rachel, as she really did her best trying to to figure out all the differences and details together with me.
I also tried young vintage port, 2010 Quevedo Vintage Port – and it made me happy.
The vintage port is supposed to be filtered when it is poured in the glass, which was performed using the jigger and special metal mesh filter.
Every aspect of this wine was simply exciting. The color – I don’t know if the picture truly conveys the color, but it was deeply concentrated, dark ruby red. The nose – ahh, all the fresh berries you can imagine, … And the the palate – texturally present, dense, heavy, lots of fresh fruit. Yes, the was sweetness there, but oh so balanced with acidity, tannins and overall power. So far I was refraining from rating of the wines in this series of posts, but this wine was definitely a 9 and I’m sure it will be a part of my “2013 top dozen”.
When I met with Oscar in the afternoon, I used the opportunity to bombard him with the questions in my effort to understand the wine called Port. And now I want to share my newly found understanding with you, so for what it worth, below is my attempt so dissect and summarize the world of Port.
First, here are some interesting facts about Port.
- As with any other wines, the truth is in the eye of the beholder – and in our case, “beholder” will be a winemaker. Effectively, winemaker knows his vineyards, and winemaker knows what vines are capable of producing specific kinds of ports – Tawny, Ruby, Vintage, non-vintage and so on. But when it comes to Port, that winemaker’s knowledge is also verified before it can be put in the bottle and on the label – by the governing organization called IVDP.
- Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto, or IVDP for short, is a top authority regulating production of all Port wines. When winemaker wants to declare a vintage, the sample is sent to IVDP, where it is assessed ( in the blind format) for all the quality of the vintage port, starting from the color, and then vintage designation is either granted or declined. According to Oscar, IVDP knows everything about each and every port producer – how much of what kind of port is in the barrels, how many bottles were sold, how many bottles are still remaining with the Port house and so on – IVDP owns and processes all the information related to the production of Port.
- Less than 1% percent of the total port production is designated as Vintage port.
- Most of the red port wines are made out of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Francisca and Tinta Cão grapes.
- Port is typically fermented for 3-5 days, after which fermentation is stopped with addition of neutral spirit (grape brandy). The addition of the spirit is also a reason behind port’s classification as “fortified wine”. The resulting port wine usually has ABV in the 18% – 21% range.
- Treading, the process of pressing grapes with the feet, is still in use today, but by a very small number of producers and only for the very special wines. The pressing by the feet creates just the right amount of pressure which doesn’t break the seeds – which helps to reduce bitterness of the wine.
- Vintage port is the only port which continues aging in the bottle. Vintage port should be treated as regular wine in terms of handling and storage, and consumed during 24-72 hours after opening of the bottle.
- New oak barrels are never used in production of the port. The barrels have to be used a few times for producing the regular wines, only then they become suitable for production of the Port.
Now, let’s look at the classification of the Port wines. As you know, I like using mind maps, so here is Port’s classification in the form of the mind map:
Now let’s add some details:
- Rose Port
- the latest addition to the world of port, had being produced only for a few years. Very short contact with skin after pressing. Personal note – I tried a few, and had not been impressed so far.
- White Port
- 3 years aging in stainless steel or neutral oak, then blended, filtered and bottled. Will not age in the bottle and ready to be consumed when you bought it. After bottle is opened, it should be stored in the fridge and consumed relatively quickly. Personal note – the white port from Sandeman was an eye opening experience – you should really try it.
- Tawny – ages in the small oak barrels with controlled oxidation. All ports in this group don’t age in the bottle and ready to drink when you buy them. Also all ports will last for many weeks after the bottle is opened.
- Single Vintage
- Grapes from the single vintage. At least 7 years of aging in the oak barrel (can be longer), then blended, filtered and bottled.
- Blend of vintages
- 4 years in oak barrel, blended, filtered, bottled
- Tawny Reserve
- 8 years in oak barrel, blended, filtered, bottled
- Age-designated Tawny
- 10 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old – all of these ports are blends of ports of various ages. The blend is composed by winemaker’s discretion – for instance, a 40 years old can be a blend of 30 years old and 100 years old.
- Tawny More Than 40 years old (not an allowed designation in US)
- Single Vintage
- 3 years of aging in the stainless steel/neutral oak, then blended, filtered and bottled. After opening, the bottle should be consumed within a few days, and best to be refrigerated.
- Ruby Reserve
- 6 years of aging in the stainless steel/neutral oak , then blended, filtered and bottled. After opening, the bottle should be consumed within a few days, and best to be refrigerated.
- about 2 years in stainless steel, can be some time in oak barrels, bottled unfiltered, continues aging in the bottle. After opening, consume within 24-48 hours.
- Late Bottled Vintage (LBV)
- 4 – 6 years in the oak barrel (I’m sure about the age, not sure about oak barrel versus stainless steel)
- Single Quinta Vintage
- Somewhat complicated. It designates that grapes are coming from the single vineyard, but age/blending/bottling etc. is not very clear. But for all intents and purposes, should be treated as Vintage port.
I think I told you everything I know at the moment about Port – but I will keep adding and refining to this post just to make sure I got it all correctly. Before we part, here are couple of pictures for you:
That’s all I have for you, folks. Comments and corrections are most welcome. Cheers!
If it wouldn’t be for Moms, the world wouldn’t exist. They carry the “life” literally inside and outside, and all of us, collectively and individually are very grateful to them for all they are doing each and every day.
Today is Mother’s Day, and in order to celebrate all the Moms, I want to do two things. First, here is a great article from the friend, blogger and mother herself, SAHMMelier – “Being Enough this Mother’s Day” – it is well worth reading.
And of course, I want to give flowers to all the Moms. I love taking pictures of the flowers, so below is a small collection which I want to present to you. Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!
It is Saturday, and wine quizzes are back at Talk-A-Vino!
I will continue the grape series with the next quiz (we already covered 3 grapes, so there are only about 200-300 left), but for today, I want to play one of my most favorite games – the one with the picture, you know?
Below is the picture which is very relevant to the wine world – do you know what it is, what it is for and how to use it?
Good luck, enjoy your weekend and don’t forget that Mother’s Day is tomorrow. Cheers!
I have nothing against wine blogs--quite the opposite, I technically write one, I guess. I also follow several really great blogs and really admire their authors and are inspired by them daily. The problem I have with them is that as a "unit" there is really not much cohesion and at the same time not much in the way of differing viewpoints.
Here I’m, continuing to report on my food and wine adventures in Portugal (here are the first and second posts from the series). Well, I guess “adventures” is really too much of a word for simply excellent food and wine experiences, but “adventures” put the things in the right prospective, isn’t it? Never mind, let’s just talk about food and wine.
On the first night we ended up at the small place called Restaurante Nova Europa. The place looked very authentic in the sense that they had a hard time to find an English menu, and our server spoke practically no English - that didn’t prevent us from having a very good dinner. Most of the people at the table ordered some version of the local fish called Bacalhau, which is a cod. It was offered in different variations – mine had a lot of potatoes:
And as I often ignore food and wine pairing rules, the wine was red:
As most of the wines from Douro, this 2010 Evel Tinto Douro, this wine is made from the “classic set” of Portuguese grapes – Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz a Tinta Barroca. The same grapes are also used as a foundation for most of the Port wines, which are made in exact same Douro region. Good body, good depth, not necessarily spectacular but easy to drink and pleasant.
Now I would like to mention two of the very local products. First one is beer. I’m not sure how many different beers are produced in Portugal (I’m positive though that US microbrewery revolution didn’t take any roots in Portugal so far). The beer is called Super Bock, it comes in lager, stout and few other versions, and it is produced in the area just outside of Porto – according to Wikipedia. I only tried the stout, which was dark, rich, smooth and creamy. I have to mention though that it is somewhat dangerous to rely on my opinion about beer – for the most of the time I prefer dark beer and on contrary to many of my friends, I don’t find Guinness bitter. And here is the picture for you – the picture was taken by my friend Kfir, not by me – but he was using my camera, so I guess I have some rights to it…
Next item to bring to your attention is a local sandwich (supposedly it is Porto’s specialty) called Francesinha. This sandwich is made out of two slices of crust-less bread with various meats (or even veggies) in between – we saw it on the menu in most of the restaurants in Porto, and it can come with steak, white meat, various ham cuts and so on. The sandwich is completely covered by melted cheese (top and all sides), and it is served with the secret sauce which is supposed to be some combination of tomato sauce and beer. I had a steak version and it was very tasty. Believe it or not, but I’m not always carrying my camera to the restaurant, so Francesinha is probably the only dish I regret not taking my picture of – but someone thankfully did on Wikipedia, so below is the picture for you, courtesy of Wikipedia:
And then there was Cufra. Pardon my little drama here, and let me explain. We saw the restaurant while walking by, checked it out on the web, and it looked appealing enough. Service staff spoke not too much of English, but the menu was possible to understand, so we all ended up with decent food – but the wine was more memorable. For the white we had 2011 Castello D’Alba from Douro, a blend of Codega do Larinho, Rabigato and Viosinho – very typical blend for Douro white wine, all indigenous grapes (Wine Centurions, take note!). The wine was very nice, with good acidity and somewhat similar to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, only with less of grapefruit.
Then we had a bootle of 2009 Quinta do Cardo Selecção do Enólogo Beiras DOC, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, produced by Quinta do Cardo. The wine was nothing short of being spectacular – with the exception of vintage port, during the whole week I only had one other red wine which was on the same level or may be even a touch higher – but I will talk about it in another post. Dense and concentrated, with dark fruit, plums and blueberries on the palate, all very round with the hint of smokiness. The wine was so good for the money (€14, in a restaurant!) that I even got two bottles right in the restaurant to take them back home.
When we went to the same restaurant second time, about a week later, the menu was quite different, and the wine were too. But – one of the reasons for the second visit was the desire to try the crab dish we saw someone ordering during the first time. Considering that Porto is located right on the cross of ocean and the Douro river, it is rather expected that fish and seafood should be very good – and this dish didn’t disappoint (hope you will find the below picture being enough of the proof):
I can’t say the same about wines – there was different 2009 Quinta do Cardo wine on the list (about €4 cheaper), and while it was not bad, it was not anywhere as good as the first one. All in all, if you are in Porto and if you will be in the area, Cufra is well worth visiting.
Last place I want to mention (but not least by all means) is a restaurant called Rabelos. Just to give you some prospective, Rabelos are actually flat bottom boats which were used to transport barrels of Port from the wineries to the Port house cellars for aging. Nowadays the wine is transported by the tanker trucks, and Rabelos are only used to move tourists around.
Anyway, the restaurant is actually located in Vila Nova de Gaia, a town which houses all the port cellars across the river from Porto. It is located very close to the bridge which connects Porto and Gaia, right along the boardwalk in a place which in general should be considered a tourist trap. But it was no tourist trap at all. The service was outstanding, and we got great recommendations and had great experience overall.
One of the starters was local feta cheese, dusted with Parmesan and slightly roasted with olive oil (take a note – I think it should be as easy to make it at home as it is delicious, and as a very least I’m going to try it…).
Then we had beef carpaccio and shrimp salad – the pictures don’t do justice to those dishes, but both were delicious
Next we had two dishes made from Bacalhau in different styles – one was baked with cheese sauce and one was grilled – both were outstanding:
Again ignoring the pairing rules, we went with the red wine called 2010 Borges Quinta da Soalheira Douro Red, a blend of classic Douro red grapes, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Tinto Cão, made by Vinhos Borges. The wine had medium body, good acidity, nice red fruit on the palate, well balanced – perfect for every day drinking, considering you can find it.
For the desert, we had lemon cake (paired with white Port) and chocolate cake paired with simple tawny. Below are a few pictures – the first one is taken by me ( boring, sigh), and then two others taken by Kfir – I will need to learn how to really use my own camera…
And of course nobody can leave the restaurant without coffee, right?
That’s all, we are done for today folks. Sorry for all the pictures, hope you found them at least moderately entertaining. Until the next time – cheers!
I’m continuing my notes from Portugal (you can find previous post here). On Sunday we had some free time to walk around the town, so I have more pictures and some actual port tasting notes for you.
Let’s start with the pictures. We walked past beautiful cemetery (is it appropriate to use the word “beautiful” in conjunction with cemetery? not sure, but still). As my friend P likes to say – “lines!”:
Isn’t this pretty?
Someone has good sense of humor:
One of the modes of transportation in Porto:
Just look at this beautiful town:
Port, I’m coming:
So we finally made it across the river (technically, all the port houses are located across the river from Porto in the town called Gaia). We made our first stop at Quinta do Noval. Quinta do Noval has all the operations in Douro valley, and only a small store in Porto, where you can taste limited number of their Ports. All the ports you can taste are packaged in the form of a single-pour tiny bottles, so as the result you can’t try any of their vintage ports, as those can’t be put in the small bottles. Let me explain.
There are many different types and styles of port, but at this point we only want to distinguish between vintage and non-vintage ports. To begin with, all the ports are made in the same way as any wine – the grapes are harvested, crushed and fermented until desired level of sweetness is achieved. From here on, Port making deviates from the regular wine making process – fermentation now is stopped with addition of very young brandy (neutral grape spirit), and then Port wine goes for aging in the barrels or vats, depending on what kind of port is in the making. Here the distinction will be also made between Vintage and non-vintage ports. If quality of the wine is outstanding, the Port house might declare a vintage year, and then the port will age in the oak cask only for 2 years, and then continue aging in the bottle. Otherwise, the port wine can age anywhere from 5 to a 100 years in the barrels, and it will produce ports with the age ( but not vintage) designation on them.
The key difference (important for us, consumers) between vintage and non-vintage port is that non-vintage port can be kept for extended amount of time after the bottle is open, while vintage port should be consumed within a day or two, same as any other wine. This is also the reason for Vintage port (which is typically very expensive) not being available for the tasting in the tiny bottles.
Okay, going back to our tasting – so we decided to try the 40 years Tawny port from Quinta de Noval:
It was good and very complex, with lots of almond variations on the palate, dried fruit and pronounced acidity, which was taming the sweetness. It was good but not amazing (I would be disappointed if I would pay a full price for an actual bottle of it).
Next we stopped at Sandeman:
In most of the port houses you can go for the tour and then do the tasting – we decided to skip the tour and just do the tasting.
For the first time I tried White Port – and it was outstanding!
Sandeman Apitiv White Porto was aged for 3 years in the vat. It had golden color, good amount of sweetness ( but not cloying by all means), lots of white fruit, particularly white plums on the palate, good acidity. It was bright and uplifting, very refreshing wine overall.
Sandeman Imperial Reserve Porto ( 8 years of aging in the barrel) had sweetness perfectly supported by the structure underneath – dark fruit, good body, good acidity – overall, probably one of the best ports I ever had.
That’s all I have for you for now – in the next post we will talk about food experiences in Porto. Cheers!
I have to break the tradition today – there will be no wine quiz for you to solve. Instead, I’m going to share the experience with you.
As you know, my day time work had nothing to do with wine. But – because of that work, I’m spending this week, in Portugal – hence the title of this blog post. I’m not just in Portugal, I’m actually in the city called Porto – and this is where the Port was born. Over the next few days, I plan to learn as much as I can about Port – and share that with you. But, considering that I’m still jet-lagged, there is not much I can share at the moment – besides a few pictures. Rest assured – more pictures and notes are coming soon!
That’s all I have for you for today, folks. Don’t worry – the wine quizzes will be back, just after we will talk a bit about Port. Cheers!
Let’s start with the answer for Wine Quiz #55, Grape Trivia: Pinot Noir. In the quiz you were supposed to answer five questions about Pinot Noir grape – here are the questions with the answers:
Q1: Can you explain the source and meaning of the grape’s name “Pinot Noir”?
A: Pinot Noir literally translates as “black pine”, due to the grape cluster’s resemblance of the pine cone.
Q2: True or False: Burgundy has the biggest plantings of Pinot Noir in France?
A: False – Champagne has much bigger area planted with Pinot Noir
Q3: Match the wine/producer with its country/region:
|A. Mt. Difficulty||1. Burgundy|
|B. Evening Land||2. New Zealand|
|C. Fleury||3. Champagne|
|D. Hamilton Russell||4. Oregon|
|E. Clos de Tart||5. South Africa|
A: A2, B4, C3, D5, E1
Q4: Which major wine-producing country is literally unknown as a Pinot Noir producer?
A: Spain. There are literally no Pinot Noir wines coming out of Spain
Q5: From 1990 to 2010, annual Pinot Noir harvest in California increased approximately:
a. 2 times, b. 3 times, c. 5 times, d. 7 times, e. 9 times
A: According to the information you can find here, production of Pinot Noir went from 32,000 tons in 1990 to 147,732 in 2010 – thus correct answer is C, about 5 times.
Looking at the answers, it seems that everybody had no issues answering first 3 questions, but the last two proved to be more difficult. Nevertheless, we have 2 winners – armchairsommelier and vinoinlove both answered all questions correctly, so they get unlimited bragging rights. Jeff at thedrunkencyclist gets honorable mention with 4 correct Google free answers, as well as RedWineDiva also with 4 correct answers. Well done!
By the way, what do you think the theme of the next quiz will be? I’m going along the lines of major grapes, so what do you think is next?
Now, to the interesting stuff around the grapevine. Let’s start from Bordeaux 2012, or En Primeur 2012 event which recently took place in Bordeaux. This event takes place in the Spring of each year in Bordeaux, and this is the time when Bordeaux wines of previous year are offered for the future sales, and prices for those future sales are set. En Primeur 2012 was different from most of the prior years’ events – first, because Chateau Latour, one of the five famous First Growth producers, stopped participating in this events (from now on, they will only sell their wines when they are actually ready to drink, not the futures). Second interesting element – China’s appetite for Bordeaux is getting smaller, and now prices need to be corrected. Anyway, here is a summary by Jancis Robinson, offering her insight after attending the En Primeur 2012.
Now, I want to bring to your attention an interesting article about… bottle variations. No, I’m not talking about imperfections of the glass – I’m talking about the actual content, the wine, being different from bottle to the bottle. Here is the link – I think it is a very interesting reading.
Do you like beer? Yes, of course it is okay to like beer even if you are a wine lover. So if you like beer, here is an interesting site for you – BrewGene. It is both a web site and an app, which will allow you to find information on the beer, see what the others think about it, get recommendations for similar beers and more – I think this is pretty cool, so check it out.
Last but not least, a couple of food events – sorry, they are really only local events, but I want to mention them in any case. Dishcrawl, which I mentioned in my previous Meritage post, just announced a new event on June 11th, which will be taking place in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. As of the time of this writing, there were still 17 tickets available – if you are local in the area, or plan to visit around June 11th date – don’t miss out. Here is the link to the web site for you.
Another food related event is Taste of Westport, which will take place on May 2nd from 6 pm to 9 pm. Here is the link with lots of information about the event, all coming from OmNomCT blog which is a priceless source of information about all things food and drink in CT – if you live in Connecticut or in a close proximity, and you are not following this blog, you have to correct this mistake immediately.
And that’s about all I have for you, folks. The glass is empty. Until the next time – cheers!