Mon 5 Oct 2009
Here’s a port that will warm the cockles of your heart — whatever the hell those are — in these coming Autumn evenings, though I, true to form, am sipping it at 9 a.m. This is the Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2004. Dow’s was established in 1798 but has been owned by the Symington family since 1961; beginning in 1912, the Symingtons had a 30 percent share in Dow’s and managed the vineyards.
LBV was devised to provide accessible port for consumers when a year was not “declared” for Vintage Porto and to have port on hand while the vintage port was aging in their cellars. Vintage port is aged two years in oak barrels and then released to mature in the bottle; typically the fierce tannins of vintage port require 15 or 20 years to soften. LBV is aged in barrel four to six years before release, allowing the tannins to mellow and smooth out and making a port that is immediately drinkable without having to be decanted. While LBV is a port of a single vintage, it is typically made in non-declared years. These are fortified wines, so the alcohol level is usually 19 to 20 percent.
Dow’s LBV 2004 presents an opaque ruby/purple color. The bouquet is pure pleasure. Blackberries and black currants are woven with blueberries and black raspberries dipped in bittersweet chocolate and accented with the sharp earthiness of freshly ground black pepper, this paean to ripe berryishness permeated by hints of dried orange rind and a dusty, leathery, mossy element. The wine is dense and almost viscous in the mouth, bursting with ripe black fruit flavors, savory fruit cake and layers of exotic spice. It’s sweet and jammy on the entry, but the finish is dry, minerally and a bit austere. This would be fabulous with chocolate desserts or, in contrast, with an aged Cheddar cheese. Excellent. About $21.
Imported by Premium Port Wines, San Francisco.