In the description of Meritage it was noted that the winemaking regions of the world of late have become rather protective of their trademarks. The Portuguese have likewise coerced America to honor its Port designation, so that all new winemakers must use another description.
The diagram to the left will likely cause consternation and brow-beating amongst the aficionados of port, since the "true way" is to arrest fermentation of the wine when it reaches 9% residual sugar with a high-proof clear brandy. This traditional method is great ... when one has a source for the brandy that happens to coincide with the very minute that the fermenting wine suddenly gets down 9% remaining fruit sugar. But for a small winemaker, the American alternative is also appealing: fermenting the wine in cold-fermentation conditions until nearly dry, THEN adding the sugar that was lost and the alcohol via brandy which is needed to preserve it. Press, and wait!
The grapes employed are loosely called "The Touriga Family" but per the whim of the winemaster, it may include Touriga National, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Ruiz, Baga, Alvarinho, Sausao and a number of even less well known varieties. We tend to keep our Captain's Table made from the Big Three only.
Our produciton of Irish Monkey Bos'n's Mate is very, very limited, as it is more of a hobby-wine at this point than a vital component of our breadth of wines. However, it also remains the Number One requested after dinner drink amongst our friends, so we think that Winemaker Bob is onto something, and should be encouraged.
Port-styled wines go best either entirely by themselves, or in conjunction with fresh berries, flans and custards, chocolate cakes, bar chocolate and of course the myriad of truffles that chocolatiers are now making. Try with the rasberry truffle! Outstanding. One little know venue for Captain's Table would also be in accompanying the hardest of hard chesses, along with thinly sliced figs and dried organic apricots.
Note: contrary to so many "port" offerings, from personal experience, Winemaker Bob reminds us that the really truly great Port wines of Portugal are exemplified by not being strongly colored, but more of a pale Pinot Noir or deeper Rose coloration. The body color should be a light fuschia with hints of red-gold and amber around the edge of the glass. Most California "ports" are extremely deeply colored, which ends up resulting in a lot of "throwing" (of sediments and precipitates). A great 1963 Cockburn Port we note, today still has absolutely no thrown sediment, and still comes out of the bottle in a light fuschia-with-gold tones coloration. The Irish Monkey port strives for the same ideal.
|Temperature||Room to warm||The warmer presentation accentuates the brandy and fig-like aromas, while keeping the fruit present for balance.|
|Glass||Short & Squat||The traditional port glass is very small, and in our way of thinking too small. A better glass is a small "brandy snifter" on a short stem, as it allows ample room for the aromas to develop into a wash of well preserved fruit and oak.|
|If there were any wine that really could "follow" it would of course be another fortified wine like Amontillado Sherry or even Sauternes. But you should plan a "resting period" at the very least. It is more traditional to transition to a full strength aged spirit, as the compliment of flavors is nearly complete. Nowever, the "digestivos" are also fair game. Make sure you have plenty of sparkling water to clear the palate!|