Robert Bell's

Wines of Canada

Since 1992

Indulging In Port-Style wines


Barbara and I are happy to say our first outdoor tasting experience of 2022 was a success. We decided to do a port tasting. Now fortified wines in Canada may not be called Port.

Canada reached an agreement with Europe and Portugal.  Only wine produced in the Douro region of Portugal may be called Port or Porto. (Canadian producers, under CEWSA Article 12(1), will cease using geographic indications (GIs) Chablis, Champagne, Port, Porto and Sherry effective December 31, 2013.)

Port is a fortified wine. Fortified wines are made by adding a proportion of grape spirit, or brandy, to the wine at some point during the production process. Port is arguably the greatest of all fortified wines and its paramount expression, Vintage Port, ranks alongside the finest produce of Bordeaux or Burgundy as one of the great iconic wines of the world.

Vinho do Porto, Porto

Porto vineyards

Fortified wine is most commonly associated with Portugal. The name comes from the harbour Porto this harbour is located in the City of Oporto . Some say Port was named after the city. The original wine region from which Port first came is called Douro. Today port wine is made in numerous countries; Canada is building a reputation for fine Ports.

Port is a sweet red wine with about 20% alcohol (as opposed to table wine which is usually about 13%) and rather low acidity and tannin. Ideally, a good port should have a rich spicy flavour and in spite of its 20% alcohol, taste very smooth. Port is created in a unique way that captures the fruit and flavour of the ripe grapes in wines that possess extraordinary longevity. During fermentation, prior to reaching the point where all of the natural grape sugars have been converted into alcohol, high-proof brandy is added to the vats to stop the fermentation. This leaves a wine with great depth of colour and a high natural sweetness.

Port is usually divided into two categories casked aged and bottled aged. Port can also be classified by other factors such as whether red or white grapes are used.

Tawny Ports are wines made from red grapes that are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. As a result, they gradually mellow to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to wood imparts "nutty" flavours to the wine, which is blended to match the house style. Tawny Ports are sweet or medium dry and typically drunk as a dessert wine. A Tawny Port from a single vintage is called Colheitas. Instead of an indication of age (10, 20...) the actual vintage year is mentioned.

Bottle-aged ports receive limited maturation in cask, cement, or stainless steel before bottling. They are intended to mature in the bottle, usually, after you buy them. The less expensive bottle-aged ports—Ruby, Reserve, and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) are intended for consumption soon after purchase. True quality vintage port, on the other hand, is bottled without fining or filtration and will need decades to properly mature. These are among the world's longest-lived wines and will always require decanting.

Ruby port is the cheapest and most extensively produced type of port. After fermentation, it is stored in tanks made of concrete or stainless steel to prevent oxidative ageing, and preserve its rich claret colour. The wine is usually blended to match the style of the brand to which it is to be sold. The wine is fined and cold filtered before bottling and does not generally improve with age.

Vintage Ports are wines which age briefly in wood and then spend years maturing patiently in the bottle. Vintage port is made entirely from the grapes of a declared vintage year. The grapes may come from different vineyards. Single Quinta Vintage Ports are wines that originate from a single estate

There are more than 100 different grapes allowed to be used in the production of port.

We invited six guests to join us for the experience. It was a beautiful day and we gathered in the backyard to relax and enjoy some good wines.

We offered everyone a choice of wine while waiting for everyone to arrive. We had Malbec from Argentina, Syrah from Spain, Pinot Noir from Blue Grouse in British Columbia and a white Pinot Gris also from Blue Grouse.

Once everyone arrived we brought out the appetizers ranging from various world wide cheeses, to Olives, figs and Chocolate Treats.

Our first selection was from Glass House winery called Festa. It featured nice notes of Blackberry, raspberry,chocolate and Caramel.

Our second selection was a wine from Backyard Vineyard, on the label it says " sit back,Relax and enjoy" they hit the hail on the head for we were doing exactly that..with some nice pop tunes playing in the background. The wine featured notes of cherry and hints of spice on the mouth Blueberry and Cranberries

Up next was the offering from Chaberton called Tribute 2017 Nice! Slightly sweeter than the previous wines..featuring Strawberry and raspberry flavours.

So far everyone was quite pleased with our selections. Not everyone had the same favourite, Everyone did say they would happily purchase any of these port-style wines.

Last we went for the highest alc % at 20.1 the 2015 Rouge from Skaha Vineyards. A powerful offering a 100% Merlot fortified with desert wine aged 24 months in French Oak. Flavours of Butterscotch, Raisin and Almonds leaped on the palette. The chocolate treats quickly disappeared as we sipped on this wine.

As the day began to cool off we ventured inside to a lasagna dinner.

Wineries of Canada

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