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Eclipse: 10 Year Old Tawny Port Wine #MWWC35

2 Oct

An eclipse is when one celestial body temporarily blocks another during travel along its ellipse. According to NASA, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the light of the sun and casts its shadow on the earth. During a lunar eclipse, the earth blocks the light from the sun and casts its shadow on the moon.

Sounds like a pretty basic thing. And they happen all the time, in the life of a planet- about every 18 months, a total solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on earth. But humans and animals are deeply moved by this event. Animals may scare,  roosters will crow afterwards. Human show extreme emotion; many call it ‘life-changing’.

There has been some great music written about eclipses.

 

 

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters penned the nihilistic thought in Eclipse ,  “Everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon”; while Tom Petty countered in The Dark of the Sun, “Into the dark of the sun, will you save me a place? Give me hope, give me comfort, get me to a better place?”

 

 

I have a different take on the eclipse:


“Only in darkness can you truly appreciate light.”

-JvB 

 

To this end, I give you the beautiful darkness: 10 Year Old Tawny Port Wine.

Port is the quintessential contemplation drink (with its low ABV, you can drink a lot more of it than liquor before getting loaded!) Thought of commonly as an after-dinner drink (digestif), it is also an apéritif, and pairs gorgeously with dried fruit, jam, and medium to full-bodied cheeses. Port deserves a round-bottomed glass such as a Burgundy wine glass or a cognac snifter, as the aromas are intoxicatingly complex and beautiful.

 

Fortified wines have structure and elements that helps you understand non-fortified wines better. It blocks out the thoughts, flavors, aromas, and impacts of red, orange, rosé, and white wines, and gives you a new perspective on them.  “Only in darkness can you truly appreciate light.” After port, you should not have an issue identifying a nutty aroma, stewed fruit, caramel, or burnt orange, among other classic characteristics.

 

Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port; Douro Valley, Portugal. 20% ABV, SRP $30/bottle; Sample by Calhoun & Company.

 

Color is a warm, orange and caramel tawny. The nose is nutty with rich, ripe fruit and dried rose petals. On the palate: fruit compote, butterscotch, dried date and raisin, a rounded mouthfeel with a mature and elegant finish. This is a gorgeous port wine that is a little more delicate and specific than some others. I love it after dinner,  but sometimes when I enjoy it by myself,  I prefer pairing this with salty snacks like almonds or pretzels, over ice cream, or with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich late at night.

 

Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port: Upper Douro Valley, Portugal. 20%ABV, SRP $36/bottle; Sample by Calhoun & Company.

Color is a ruddy umber, while the nose offers burnt sugar and blackberry. On the palate: a warm fruit compote engages the tongue while an overly ripe black plum crosses the side palates with a touch of heat on the top. Reserved secondary notes of honey, toasted cashew, and dried fig swirl together with the elegant, oaken finish. 

 

 

For me, the perfect pairing for Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port is perhaps a charcuterie and cheese platter, as this port loves anything you pair with it. Given the option, the wise palate would go wild with spicy cured meats, moderate to strong cheese, olives, dried apricots and grape bunches. Late at night I might be known to pour a few fingers of port and pop some crackers with borgonzola and fig preserve in the toaster oven. Don’t just me until you try it- what I can tell you is that the pairing defines structure, balance,  and beauty. Your mouth will love you for it, and the Tawny Port will last you months after opening to provide maximum enjoyment.

When you put down the tawny and go back to your still (non-fortified) wines, you will have gained new appreciation and perspective. You’ll appreciate that eclipse and what it opens up for you- both on your palate, and in your mind.

 

#MWWC35

 

à votre santé!

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Warre’s Warrior Reserve Port

3 May

Warre’s Warrior Finest Reserve Porto. Portugal, ABV 20%, SRP $19.

 

I have seen people dip the unlit end of their cigar into it; others will pound it back like a shot, asking for another. Some contemplate it over ice, while I prefer to sip and enjoy port wine from a brandy snifter.

Color is deep purple with violet edging. The nose offers rich, dark fruit: black plum, blackberry and dark cassis. A hint of sweet plum on the tip of the tongue, until the flavor palate shifts to a complex array of molten flavors, with a smudge of heat across the rear top palate. Features a long, deep finish, asking for more. If you have another pour, you might not have it for long. 

Known as the oldest brand of port from the oldest British Port company, Warre’s was founded in 1670 and they have been making this specific brand for over 200 years.

I don’t find it appropriate to label Warre’s Warrior port as an after-dinner drink. Yes, it pairs gorgeously with cheese, tea biscuits, and chocolate, although for the latter, I’d suggest Lindt’s dark chocolate with caramel and a touch of sea salt. The chocolate’s complexity matches the depth of the port, the orange peel widens the mouthfeel on the side palate, the sea salt softens the port’s impact and makes everything feel slightly lazier, yet more alive. On the plus side, pairing with food makes me want to enjoy a much larger glass of Warrior porto. Taking that one step further, Warre’s Warrior is 20%ABV, approximately half of a brandy, cognac or other after-dinner drink, so might be able to indulge a second glass… or a third! Getting back to my point- this is an elixir. Almost magical, this is elevates the after-dinner experience, food pairing or no.

 

I spent two full weeks of nights having a taste of this luscious delight after dinner, enjoying it thoroughly, pairing after pairing.  Perhaps the most enjoyable tasting for me was a post-dinner engagement with friends in the backyard. First we tasted a delightful sparkling wine, a vinho verde, a Napa cab, and a vintage Napa Syrah- for which, the Warrior porto felt like the obvious, perhaps even perfect, conclusion. It added finesse and elegance to the tasting, becoming an ideal completion to our evening. My neighbor Michael kept coming back to the port, like a miner adoring his prized nugget of precious gold:  “after everything else, this is the perfect finish!” he said, toasting me after another pour, as I, too, drank in the scent of the spring evening, the port from the glass, the camaraderie amongst longtime friends.

 

Perfect finish, indeed. (Time for me to place a standing order with my supplier!)

 

What’s in your glass? Let me know what you think about Warre’s Warrior!

 

 

à votre santé!

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