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Not Just Any Port In A Storm

Depending on when you grew up, Christopher Columbus was either the brave Portuguese explorer who discovered America by sailing the ocean blue in 1492, or an Italian hustler who conned the Portuguese royalty into paying for a trip to India, never found the place, and eventually became the enemy of indigenous peoples everywhere. But whatever your feelings about Columbus, one reason to celebrate the holiday in his honor is that if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have this country called America, where you can buy this wonderful kind of wine made in Portugal called port. It’s surprising how many otherwise sophisticated diners put so much effort into cocktails before dinner, matching a wine or two with two or more food courses, and then skip the “port course” entirely. Especially in light of what a value even a moderate-quality port really is. For even thirty to forty dollars, you can pick up a nice bottle of tawny or ruby port that might easily service you for a couple of weeks of fine dining, depending on your drinking and dining habits. Although many port lovers wouldn’t DREAM of having a nice dinner without some port afterward, most of us dine a little more casually, and think of port as a treat, which it is! And in the case of many tawnies and rubies, an opened bottle will last much longer than an unfortified wine. And those who say “Oh, I couldn’t POSSIBLY drink any more tonight”? Well, in the same way that many people fail to understand the gastronomic logic behind dessert and coffee – i.e., the fact that they make you feel LESS stuffed and lethargic by boosting your blood sugar and giving you a small caffeine kick -  they also misunderstand port, and its comforting effect. It has been referred to as “wine of philosophy” because of this calming quality, and the contemplative nature of properly enjoying it. If you want to learn more about port you can of course read about it on Wikipedia, or this IntoWine.com article explains some of the amusing traditions that go with enjoying port, like the “do you know the bishop of Norwich” trick. But as with any fine wine, the best way to learn about port is DRINK some. And we have plenty on hand; around a hundred varieties. A couple of highlights are below.

Willowglen Old Tawny NV Port

Willowglen Old Tawny NV Port (Australian)

89 Points, according to Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator, who said: “This is lightly sweet and deftly balanced to showcase its open-textured walnut, coffee, jasmine tea and spice flavors that linger on the relatively quiet finish.” From the producer: Deep amber toffee in colour. Rich aromas of caramel, dried fruit and nuts. Complex palate with full, rich flavours of caramel, chocolate, raisins, cold tea and nuts. Good integration and depth of flavour from the oak aged components.This wine has been through its maturation process prior to bottling and is ready to be enjoyed now. Was $10.99, now $8.99.
Warre's Late Bottled Vintage 1999

Warre’s Late Bottled

Vintage 1999

From the producer: “This traditional LBV possesses many of the qualities of a declared Vintage Port but has spent an extra two years in wood to accelerate its maturity. A further 5 years ageing in bottle allows it to be drunk immediately upon release.Tasting Notes : Deep ruby with rich plum and juicy blackberry flavours great structure firm tannins a very long finish and superb balance.”

Taylor-Fladgate-Fonseca-boxed-1994

Taylor Fladgate Fonseca Signed & Numbered Boxed Set 1994

This unique boxed set is comprised of a remarkable accomplishment. Wine Spectator gave both wines a perfect 100 score, and in 1997 made them the joint number 1 wines on their “Top 100 Wines of 1997″ list. As far as we know, this item is nearly impossible to find. As of this writing, we have it priced at $649.99, but this may be subject to change at a later date based on market rarity. We might also suggest that it would be good form on the part of the buyer to give us a call when they finally open it five years from now. The Taylor Fladgate 1994 vintage was referred to as a “majestic young wine”, but will probably be at its best in 2015, and should last well into the second half of the century. Likewise with the Fonseca. Described as “elegant and voluptuous” in its youth, it will be at its best between 2010 and 2040.
2005 Taylor Fladgate Quinta De Vargellas
2005 Taylor Fladgate
Quinta De Vargellas
Robert Parker gave this a 92, saying “A deep black/opaque hue. A very pure, well-defined nose of black cherries, cassis and plum with a certain ‘coolness’ about it. The palate is full-bodied…but very pure again, with notes of plum, liquorice, a hint of black pepper and quite a fleshy, supple finish. Very fine. Drinking 2015-2030.” $59.99
Offley 30 Years Old Tawny
Offley 30 Years Old Tawny
From the producer: A remarkable wine, amber in colour with appealing greenish hints. Its bouquet is very intense and has great complexity, with notes of caramel, moka, varnish, nuts and tobacco leaf, harmoniously fine-tuned along years of careful evolution in oak wood. In the mouth, it is a very well-balanced and unctuous wine that shows a delicate structure and a sublime finish. $94.99
Posted By:Admin October 6, 2011

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Steve on 01.21.12 11:37 pm

    There was a billboard advertising a Port
    “not just any port in a storm”. Its been driving me crazy because I cant remember what brand they were advertising. Should you know can you email me please. Thank you

  2. Posted by Admin on 01.22.12 9:41 am

    Hi Steve. We’re not aware of any brand using that slogan. The actual idiom goes back to the 1700′s in British literature, but I think the more familiar reference is a shortening of the saying “Any port in a storm, Switzerland in a hurricane”, referencing where to put your funds in a dicey economy.

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