|Niepoort Tawny and Ruby Port|
|Featured Wines - Reds|
By Brian Miracle, Certified Sommelier
Douro Valley, Portugal
If there were ever a wine that was built for cold days and nights in front of the fireplace, it would have to be port. What is port, you ask? First off, the name “port” is an abbreviation for the quaint little town of Oporto, located in the heart of Portugal. The“lodges,” or wineries, are located across the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia. The grapes are grown 40 miles upstream, and floated down the river to the Port houses.
Port has been around for hundreds of years. The British were at war with the French in 1703 and, of course, could not access any French wine. Portugal stepped up to fill the need, but the wine would sometimes arrive spoiled after the long journey. To fix this problem, they would add “neutral spirits,” or additional alcohol, to the wine to preserve the quality. Problem solved. The British still, to this day, the largest consumers of port wine outside of Portugal.
The Niepoort Tawny Port has been aged in small, used oak casks for an average of 3.5 years and can accommodate chocolate pairings, nuts and many fruits. Niepoort Ruby Port is aged for about 3 years in large wooden vats. The wine will last for several years, but will not improve with age in the bottle. Try this with soft cheeses and dark-chocolate-based desserts.
Oh, and yes, Niepoort does still utilize the “lagares,” or foot-trodden vessels to stomp the hand-picked grapes. Old school still exists in Portugal, and your palate will jump up and thank you when you try this unique style of wine.