The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2012

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Page 125 of 132

WHEN IT COMES TO FORTIFIED WINE, RICHARD CARLETON HACKER IS OUR Port ithout a doubt, port is one of our industry's most mis- understood wines, which is rather ironic, considering it has been a defi ned appellation since 1756. Although Europeans—most notably the British and French—embraced port early on, America has lagged behind, except when it comes to vintage ports, where we are the world's second biggest buyers, right after England. Vintage port, however, only accounts for two percent of port's total produc- tion, which leaves a lot of room for increased sales. But trying to sell an on-premise glass or off-premise bottle is often a challenge. The fact that port is a fortifi ed wine loses its relevancy when your customers may not know what a fortifi ed wine is. Like any fi ne wine, this Taylor's 20 Year Old Tawny, has developed deep color and fi ne legs. Ports of Call "It's unfortunate that there's not that much of a call for port, because the wines are incred- ible," says Jason Smith, MS, Director of Wine for Bellagio, Las Vegas. "At Bellagio we have older vintages going back to 1955, plus we pour the 1985 Dow's by the glass for $30. And the LBVs (Late Bottle Vintages) are excellent values because for a lower price point you can enjoy a glass of port with dinner. For example, seared foie gras with cherry chutney would be excellent with a ruby-styled port. Personally, I lean towards the 20 year old tawnies as my 'go-to' ports; I like the softer complexity and the nuttiness they offer." Unfortunately, many customers have an unfavorably biased concept of port based upon misguided experiences with the cheap, sugary varieties of yesteryear, or clandestine Authority W photos by Richard Carleton Hacker Three diff erent takes of Symington vintage ports (left to right): Graham's 1977 vintage was universally declared and is ready to drink, although it will continue aging; Warre's 1983 is an excellent wine but was not universally declared, so it may sometimes be obtained at better prices that more widely-known vintages; Dow's 1900 was an exceptional year, but has already peaked, which is why the bottle is empty. The trick in storing vintage ports is knowing when to open them. may 2012 / the tasting panel / 125

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