Monday, January 25, 2010

A Couple Good Value Ports

This winter I've had the desire for something to drink that could warm you up… something fortified. So I decided to try a few ports. Always in pursuit of variety I decided to try one aged port and another blended port; both are non-vintage. And since I’m always in pursuit of good values, I chose Warre’s 10 Year Old Otima and Trevor Jones Jonesy Tawny Port. (Both pictured above & below.)

Both of these ports are made using the traditional Portuguese blend of grapes, e.g., Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão. After fermentation it is fortified with brandy. And the alcohol content is 20% by volume.

The Otima is made in the Douro region of Portugal and is a lighter style Tawny (pictured right, below) that clearly shows aged aromas and flavors on the finish, e.g., Sherry or Madeira oxidized characteristics together with honey, hazelnuts, orange peel on the mid-palate.

The Jonesy is made in the Barossa Valley in southern Australia and is a blend averaging 46 years in age. It is dark brown (pictured left, below), with notes of candied black cherry and molasses.

I found the Jonesy more approachable than the Otima but enjoyed both for their differences.

You can find both of these Ports at The Wine Warehouse; the Jonesy is $11 and the Otima is $25.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warming Up to Malbec

I have to confess that when Argentine Malbec first hit the market, I was not a fan because I tended to dislike malolactic, oak-y, prune juice. But since we are in the dead of winter I drove myself to my local merchant and asked for some recs for substantive reds under $15. In the process I consciously decided to put aside my aversion to Argentine Malbec. Then in my inability to decide between two different Malbecs, I decided to pick up both of them. Due to sheer coincidence I happened to purchase another cheap bottle of Malbec a few days earlier at another local merchant. So I found myself with with three Argentine Malbecs... and here they are:

2007 Urban Uco Malbec (Mendoza)- Medium bodied, red & black fruit, discernable amount of spice & oak, balanced. 90
2008 Dona Paula Estate Malbec (Mendoza) - small amount of earth disappeared quickly after opening, medium bodied, not much fruit, almost no attack, seamless transition from middle to end, longest finish of the three. 89
2008 Gouguenheim Malbec (Mendoza): light bodied, strawberry (fruitier than expected), dry finish, balanced. IMO a nice table wine. 87

The first two Malbecs were purchased at Wine Warehouse for $9.99 each. The third was purchased at New Leaf Market for $7.99. Both the Urban Uco and Dona Paula were very good and I'd recommend both, but personally I preferred the former because it had more complexity and because the Dona Paula did show more oak. But I was pleasantly surprised by all of these wines mostly because none showed any malolactic treatment. If you are like I was--Malbec-phobic--please give any of these a try and shed your Malbec phobia.