All posts filed under: Reviews

Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto

This fine Port was established in 1790 by founder George Sandeman, from the Duoro Valley in Portugal. It was less than $20 (MSRP is $22.79) at my local Fred Meyer, for a 750ml bottle. Its deep, dark crimson red and rich, luscious legs made me anticipate a true Port experience. Sandeman delivered! According to web information, this Port is selected from the finest “lots” of each vintage, then aged five years. The label recommends pairing Sandeman with cheese or rich chocolates; this was advice worth a .5 increase in overall rating! The aroma was fruity and complex, and the entire tasting journey was absolutely smooth, start to finish. Just a hint of tannin (I wanted it to be drier) preceded satisfying warmth of a true Port. Sandeman finishes quickly, but was well worth the price. It  is a great choice as an everyday wine. With an ABV of 20%, pay attention to quantity, because the quality is difficult to put down! Bottom Line: Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto                                        4.0 Nostrils Until next time, I am your …

Whiskers Blake

Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny is a yummy dessert wine from Australia. It’s named after, you guessed it, Whiskers Blake, whose job it was to scare starlings from the grape crops, using a shotgun, circa 1900. Mr. Blake was also well known for “borrowing a bottle or two” of the vineyards’ Tawny Port, “for testing purposes.” With an 18% ABV, this 8-year aged Port is the color of coffee, bottled with a screw top, no cork. The aroma is faintly reminiscent of raisins; taste is also similar to raisins with a hint of maple. It’s very friendly and smooth. Whiskers Blake remains smooth as it spreads across the tongue; there is no notable tannin, but the warmth is wonderful. Legs form quickly and are slender, as if predicting the light, velvety texture and taste. Whiskers Blake never refers to itself as a Port. Instead, they self-identify as a dessert wine. With an MSRP of $16.29 (I paid only $14.79) for a 750 ml bottle, this Classic Tawny is a good wine for a good price. Bottom …

Dow’s Fine White Porto

For less than $16 per 750 ml bottle, Dow’s White Port is a steal! With caramel coloring and thinner legs than its Ruby and Tawny siblings, this White Port is very light and fruity; aroma and tannins are nearly absent. Dow’s White Port is closer, in experience, to Ruby – – simple, friendly, and likeable. “Neutral” comes to mind as a descriptor. Dow’s White Port would likely accompany any appetizer, entrée, or dessert without fuss. Not all Ports can boast such versatility! In terms relative to Dow’s Ruby and Tawny Ports, their White Port is a “kissing cousin,” i.e. nice to have around because it’s so comfortable, with no surprises or lingering familial drama. As an everyday Port with a 19% ABV, Dow’s White Port is very drinkable. Bottom Line: Dow’s White Port:                3.5 Nostrils Until next time, I am your doc in Port!  

Fonseca Bin 27 Finest Reserve

Bin 27 comes in a lovely gift box , and what a gift it is! Founded in 1815 by Manuel Pedro Guimaraens, who kept (reserved) a special Port in bin 27 in his family cellar, this wine is a true Port, designated by the “Porto” in its name. Five generations later, Bin 27 boasts legs so thick, they appear reluctant to form; indeed they defy gravity several seconds before giving way. Tannins spread across the tongue and mouth, really luscious tannins, reminiscent of some Cabs I’ve hailed in previous years. Bin 27 is a “bipolar” treat; its mild, nearly flat aroma vascillates neutrally between must and oak, then “Pow!” Flavor assails the tongue and mouth with vibrant fruits and gritty tannins! Bin 27 behaves like a sneaker wave, i.e. after the shock and crash of impact, it rolls gently away…no lingering warmth or residual flavors. With an ABV of 20%, be mindful of its potential to sneak up on you. Also, it is priced at $18.59 (SRP is $21.59) for a 750 ml bottle…very reasonable. …

Graham’s Six Grapes

It only makes sense that Graham’s Six Grapes be the sixth Port I sample for my review. It’s also named after my favorite grandfather, William (not Billy) Graham! Add that it’s a self-proclaimed “perfect accompaniment to dark chocolate,” and I’m cashing my bottle deposits to purchase this cool bottle for under $20, for the 750 ml size. Note: The price has since increased to $30.49 (on sale for $23.99) at my local Fred Meyer (Think they’ve noticed there’s a Port fiend frequenting their aisles?!). Anyway, I found a lot of nifty details about Graham’s, for example, it’s owned by the Symington family, in Portugal’s Douro Valley, where real Port hails. The vineyard/estate was established in 1820 by William & John Graham, then bought and run, hands-on, by the Symington family, in 1970. “Six Grapes” dates back to the 1800’s when the grapes were classified on a scale from 1-6, denoting the quality of grapes. Only the very best grapes received the “six grapes” classification, which might later qualify as “Reserve.” The bottle I sampled is a …

Yalumba Antique Tawny

 Yalumba Antique Tawny Museum Reserve Dessert Wine…Phew! Retails for $22.39, but I picked up the small (375 ml) bottle for $20.99 at my local Fred Meyer. Yalumba hails from Australia’s oldest family-owned winery and, to qualify as an “antique” wine, it must be at least ten years old, but less than 21. The “reserve” stamp merely means the vineyard folks used select grapes from exceptional batches. “Dessert” labeling signifies that Yalumba is honoring the traditional method of calling a wine “Port” only if it grows in Portugal. Yes, Yalumba gets favoritism points for following the rules! This dessert wine has a 19% ABV. We learn some great trivia on Yalumba’s back label;  it is comprised of the “angel’s share” of wine.  Throughout the maturation process, between 2% and 5% of the product is lost through evaporation. The remaining wine is called the “angel’s share,” and that’s the recipe for  Yalumba Antique Tawny. Yalumba Antique Tawny is rich and concentrated, with a caramel color, gorgeously thick legs, and smoky aroma. Taste is bold and full, almost …

Warre’s Warrior Porto

This “Finest Reserve” founded in 1670, in Portugal, is the “oldest brand of Port from the oldest British Port company.”  The winery is owned by the prolific Symington family, who have produced fine quality Ports since the 1800’s.  The Symingtons describe their Porto as “rich, full-bodied, and matured in our cellars to a mellow balance of wild red-fruit flavors, supported by spicy and elegant tannins.” Warre’s Warrior Porto has an aroma which is evident and fresh with fruit and deep oak; it is full-flavored with light tannins and a smooth, quick finish. I immediately needed another sip as there was little lingering affect. Legs seem to hang in suspension forming a hill around the rim of my glass. Unlike previous Ports, Warrior sported no mini-legs, fat legs, stick legs, etc. Just rounded itself into a hill formation, as if staking out its territory. The Warrior initially tasted sweet, with mildly textured tannins; there is nothing remarkable or novel to report. However, its high (20%) ABV and “friendly” manner can make a disagreeing duo – – sip slowly …

Del Rio Syrah Port

 This 2009 Dessert Wine deserves to be called a fully fledged Port! Del Rio Syrah Port is made in Oregon’s southern Rogue Valley, between the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains. It was one of only four Ports offered by my local Safeway and was the first to require an actual wine opener (previously, I’ve used my thumb to punch open the cardboard!). It was also my first Port to use a new styled snifter, which possibly presented an unfair advantage over the competition, because you can’t help but stick both nostrils down into the snifter as you sip. Plus, these adorable little snifters allow you to warm the Port, with your hands, adding to the entire Port experience. This particular Port  is very full-bodied and deep in flavor. It’s made from near-black Syrah grapes; subsequently, it has a brief sharpness and an undeniable fruitiness, followed by veritable spices.  The legs are thick and wide (if there is such a thing) and as the spices take leave, the warmth and tannin kick in. At $16.47 for a small …

Terra D’Oro

I feel cheated! Until just a few minutes ago, I was going to brag about what a superb deal I got on this week’s featured Port, Terra D’Oro. My daughter and I were vacationing at the Morrison Lodge in Merlin, Oregon. I ordered a Port during dinner.  The waiter informed me that their one and only Port was not available by the glass (rats!), but he would gladly check on the price for a bottle (375 ml, a “baby” bottle) of Terra D’Oro Zinfandel Port. I overheard the waiter speaking to the manager: “How much is the bottle?” “I’m not sure, retail, but we paid $37 for the bottle.” Long story short, I bought the baby bottle for $27, feeling pretty smug about the whole transaction. I was thinking if they actually paid $37, wholesale, then I scored a $74 bottle of vino (yes, “vino” – – it’s no longer just “wine” at these prices!) for only $27. So far, so good. Enter “Google.” Doing a little background research prior to publishing this week’s blog, …

Let The Sipping Begin!

For my very first Port experience, I chose to compare two Dow Ports (Tawny and Ruby) for  various reasons: I love a bargain, and Dow offers each Port for less than $14.00 I wasn’t sure I’d even like Port, because I’ve always been a Cabernet/Merlot consumer, not a big fan of sweet wines. Again, I’m cheap! Why would I invest real money in something I might not even cook with? Comparing Ruby to Tawny gave me a “baseline” with which to compare future Ports. Prior to purchasing the two varietals, I was informed by the wine steward that Ruby Ports are aged in stainless steel barrels while their Tawny counterparts grow to maturity in oak; I’m already favoring the latter! Comparing Dow’s Ruby and Tawny Ports was akin to recalling former lovers: One (the Ruby) was initially likeable but superficial, quick-to-finish, with no memorable features. The Tawny, however, was complex, with a welcoming aroma, a little rough (great tannins!), and full of tongue action with lingering warmth and a smooth finish! In short, I just …