Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NV Krohn Tawny Port

Port. Like most wines, the very name evokes images and associations, whether it's champagne with its clinking glasses and popping corks, or cabernet sauvignon which immediately makes me think of steak, a house full of guests, and long conversations. For me, port conjures up leather armchairs, crackling fires, the Masterpiece Theatre theme, slippers, and pipe smoke. It is, in many ways, the quintessential winter wine, to be sipped after a hard day of holiday shopping when you're surveying the damage/loot and trying to take a moment out of the hubbub to enjoy the season.

It can be hard to find good port at a reasonable price. The finest vintage ports require years of cellaring before they reach their full potential and unless you are in the habit of buying them and laying them down for later, you are paying the wine makers and merchants for the cost of storage each and every time you buy a bottle of 20- or 40-year old port. Instead, you can buy the NV Krohn Tawny Port ($11.99, Whole Foods).

This excellent QPR port comes from the 19th century firm of Wiese and Krohn, which was established in Portugal by two Norwegians in 1865. Located in the Douro, Wiese and Krohn employ both traditional wine-making methods and modern technologies to produce their port. Like most makers of port, Wiese and Krohn make vintage port (made from grapes harvested in a single year to mature in the bottle), late-bottled vintage (LBV) ports (which are aged in casks for 6-7 years to accelerate the age process and then bottled) and non-vintage (NV) ports (ports made from a blend of grapes from different vintages and either aged in wood or in the bottle). Some of the finest ports in the world are the Krohn Colheita reserve ports, which earn rapturous tasting notes from appreciative drinkers. Today, the company sends 90% of its wine to Europe, with the US representing a smaller share.

As if the vintage, LBV, and NV labels on ports aren't confusing enough you can buy ruby, tawny, or even white port. Ruby ports are, as the name suggests, ruby in color. They are young ports that have been aged primarily in stainless steel and in the bottle to keep them fruity and vibrant. Tawny ports are port wines that have been aged in casks. This turns their ruby color into a dark amber and makes their flavors nuttier and more oxidized. Some tawny ports, however, are simply mixtures of ruby and white ports that are aged for 4-6 years. They are half-way between ruby and traditional tawny ports in color and flavor. White ports are often served on ice, like a cocktail.

Still confused? Check out Into Wine's excellent overview of this wine's history, bottling conventions, and restrictions.

Though there isn't a lot of information on the NV Krohn Tawny Port on the label or on the web, as best as I can tell from looking at it and drinking it, this is a tawny port that is made from a blend of ruby and white ports, and it has seen some time (ca. 4-5 years) in casks to give it a rich, round taste. This wine is still bright ruby in color, with pronounced aromas of raisin and some spice. As you sip it (preferably in front of a crackling fire) you taste more raisins, plums, and a hint of cinnamon. I found this NV Tawny more complex than most NV ports at this price, and it didn't have the cloying sweetness of some non-vintage ruby ports. It's nothing like an old, vintage port, but it is delicious and easy to drink--and a great value for the price.

Port makes an excellent dessert wine if you are serving fruit and cheese. One of my favorite desserts of all time is a slice of Huntsman Cheese, with its mixture of creamy Double Gloucester and pungent Stilton cheeses in gold and white layers like a cake, a handful of Carr's wholemeal crackers, sliced apple, and a glass of port. Even without the fire, it's the recipe for a perfect, relaxing winter's evening.

1 comment:

Free Credit Score said...

The shape of the bottle is pretty unique. Good to know! Keep posting for more :)