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Food & Wine Ground >> Port and Madeira

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1/25/10 6:58 PM
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Member Since: 10/9/04
Posts: 1069
Never much liked desert wines, but recently have been enjoying ports and madeiras. Here is what I've learned since starting drinking them. Any other fans feel free to chime in.

Anything from outside of Portugal (California, Australia, etc.) is undrinkable.

Regarding Ports. I've tried port, tawny port and ruby port. The Tawny port was 10 years old, and similar to Madeira, but Madeiras that I've had tend to be more complex and simply better. Really, I would not recommend the Tawny or Ruby Port. There are others out there, but my guess is that they are not so good.

As for the regular Port, you have faily cheap ports like Sandeman's reserve, which is drinkable and starting only around 15.00, less expensive than an aged tawny port and much better, IMO.

Late Bottled Vintage, or LBV port, is when it starts getting good, and these can really be delicious. You dont need a sensitive palate or any training. You simply taste these different ports and some are great. LBVs are similar to Vintage ports in taste, but are a step down, generally, in quality. It was explained to me that they do not need "decanting," which is when you pour it into a separate bottle called a decanter that will make sure you dont get the sediment. Not sure about this though, because recently I had some LBVs that are not filtered and that have a lot of sediment. About decanting though. I dont do this because I think the sediment tastes good. This may be wierd, but not sure.

Vintage Ports tend to be the best available and are separated by year. YOu will have two years mentioned on the bottle. The date put in the barrel and the date put in the bottle from the barrel. Of course it gets better with age in the barrel, but they continue improving after bottling as well. Some years are better than others, but I dont quite know enough yet to know the best years.

Vintage Ports dont have to be expensive, starting at around 40.00, but the good ones are well over 100.00. If you have an occasion, spending 200.00 on a bottle of port is going to get you a MUCH better product than spending 200.00 on champagne !. In my mind, a 10.00 bottle of Cristalino is better than Dom Perignon anyway. A 200.00 bottle of Port TASTES like a 200.00 bottle of port.

Madeiras are not so popular, and most wine store will have a bit more than 5 to choose from. The cheapest drinkable ones tend to be around 25-30 dollars a bottle, where you will be getting a 10 year old wine. They are great though, and I highly recommend them. I've also tried 1924, 1967, 1978 Vintage Madeiras, all side by side. Closing my eyes, I chose the 1967 as the best one. Also the 1924 Madeira was much cheaper than a comparable port.

The best part for me is that I am not a big drinker, so bottles can be opened and still good for a very long time. This is especially true of Madeiras that will taste spectacular even months after opening. Not all ports can do this, but Madeiras always will.
1/26/10 3:29 AM
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Member Since: 11/30/02
Posts: 16053
ive been avoiding Port and Madeira all this time.

i dunno why but i just feel even more intimidated by them than i did when i got into unfortified wines.

one thing though about decanting.

the primary reason for decanting is the aerate the wine to release aroma and flavours or "opening it up" so to speak.

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