The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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60 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 { portugal } WITH ALCOHOL LEVELS RISING ON EVERYDAY TABLE WINES AND RESTAURANT guests continuing to insist that they prefer dry over sweet, Port can be a challenging sale for many operators. But the stellar 2011 vintage, and the 2003 and 2007 that preceded it, has helped generate more buzz and drive Port consumption. Prices on both premium, and standard Ports, are also up by 5.1 and 1.8 percent respectively in the United States in 2014, according to the Porto-based Port and Douro Wines Institute (PDWI), which represents 178 port producers. Clearly clever sommeliers are mixing it up in cocktails, pairing it with savory food and focusing on a string of great, recent vintages. Typical pairings have focused on pre-prandial nuts, post-dinner cheeses and desserts. However in a recent visit to a handful of Porto producers, I saw tawnies matched with rich, vegetable and potato-based soups. I also heard a lot of talk about the potential of rubies to pair with barbecue—that fruit-juicy synergy is there. This type of causal and modern American food pairing would make the category accessible to many more consumers. Manuel de Novaes Cabral, President of the PDWI, says that there are few set rules for Port pairings these days. "Roast meats and steak with rich, well-seasoned sauces go beautifully with a LBV as it balances the intensity of the flavors." Making Port consumption more relevant during a meal has been a key focus for many producers. George Sandeman, Brand Ambassador for the House of Sandeman, suggests a number of savory food pairings with his Ports. These include 10-Year-Old Tawny with creamy seafood gratin, served either in a puff pastry or a scallop shell. He adds that the 20-Year-Year Tawny is a beautiful match with sautéed foie gras and that the Late Bottled Vintage, or Founder's Reserve, both pair well with steak. The right Port with a seared steak can be memorable, he notes, as he recollects how the natural fat from the beef cut through the tannins to reveal "fantastic layers of fruit," when his 2007 vintage was served in Texas a few years ago. Adrian Bridge, Taylor Fladgate's CEO and Managing Director, says that the exceptional 2011 vintage has "wonderful purity and elegance, but also plenty of depth and flavor." He suggests pairing Croft's 2001 with braised partridge, or other rich game bird, with cranberry sauce. Bin 27, he says, is a good match for filet mignon or sirloin with a red wine reduction or a Port-and-prune sauce. The Taylor 20-Year-Old is a solid partner for duck tenderloin served with foie gras. Safe Harbors for Port PORTUGAL'S MOST FAMOUS PRODUCT IS RISING TO MEET PAIRING AND MARKETING CHALLENGES by Liza B. Zimmerman, DWS Port sales have historically been driven by the wines' quality and their provenance from a well- respected and difficult-to-harvest region, as here at Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos. The stellar 2011 vintage is helping generate more buzz for Port consumption. Shown here: two vintage Ports from the Symington Family Estates portfolio. Tawnies such as Warre's Otima are some of the most versatile of Ports.

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