In the last decade, fortified wines (ports, sherries, Madeiras, and marsala) have lost their popularity with many consumers. Some fear their high alcohol content (anywhere from 17 to 21 per cent ABV), others avoid residual sugar.
Yet, it must be said that fortified wines have their unmistakeable place in gastronomy and in everyday eating and drinking. Since their alcohol levels are high, small portions must be considered. Unlike wines, most expect vintage ports, can be stored for at least one week after opening.
A dry sherry makes for a fine aperitif, with tapas, and seafood; cream sherries will “pick you up” between meals; ports have blood restorative powers, taste great, and are highly recommended after meals, or before going to bed.
Madeiras offer their own pleasures in sauces, consommes, and as aperitifs, pending their sweetness.
Recently, I tasted 30 fortified wines in preparation fort eh festive season celebrations.
The following appealed to me as fine to outstanding:
Bin 27, Fonseca
Deep, youthful ruby in colour. Intense fruity bouquet with cassis, plm and blackberry notes.
Full bodied, round and velvety texture. Luscious finish.
$ 15.95 (Available at the L C B O general list)
Vintage 2011 Port, Fonseca
Inky black colour, Dark blackberry and blackcurrant aromas meet the nose. In the mouth, herbal scents, discreet notes of exotic woods and plum flavours become prominent.
10 Year Old Tawny Porto, Dacosta Of The Coast
A blend of touriga nacional, touriga franca, and tinta barroca this port offers aromas of caramel, nuts and spices. Well structures with a long and satisfying finish.
Available at Vintages $ 23.95
Fine Ruby Port, Kopke
Kopke, originally from Hamburg, Germany, has been shipping wine from Oporto for more than a century.
This entry-level ruby-red port displays the vivacity of ripe fruits and a delicate balance.
Powerful, sweet, but balanced in taste, and fine to enjoy as a restorative, or after lunch or dinner.
Otima 10 Year Old tawny Port, Warre
Reveals caramel and orange peel aromas with a vibrant tawny colour. Full bodied, well balanced and refined.
500 ml $ 22.95
VAU 2000 Vintage Port, Sandeman
Intense fruit aromas waft out of the glass. In the mouth plum and strawberry flavours dominate. Excellent depth and balance.
LBV 2008 Port, Taylor Fladgate
An exemplary Late Bottled Vintage port with brilliant red colour, intense fruit aromas, and complex flavours of blackberries.
Balanced, smooth and highly enjoyable on its own or with rich dark tortes.
10 Year Old Tawny, Taylor Fladgate
Beautiful tawny colour. Aromas of nuts and a whiff of caramel. Highly enjoyable, balanced with a long finish.
Available at Vintages
White Port, 2011, Fonseca
Fruity, sweet but not cloying, and well balanced.
Serve well chilled with flavourful finger foods.
Santa Maria Cream Sherry, Osborne
Intense ripe fruit aromas. Sweet, but well balanced with good depth.
L C B O General list
This dry fortified wien from the neighbouring region to Jerez de la Frontera represents excellent value. It is earthy, dry, with good depth and long finish. Serve with marinated seafood, cheeses, or as an aperitif on its own.
L C B O General list
10 Year Old Malvasia, Justino
Madeira has been a favourite with English and Americans for centuries.
This malvasia displays caramel, and dried fruit aromas. It is complex, and balanced with a long aftertaste.