Several new Ports have hit the market recently. Here's some info on these new up-and-comers...
There is a new Port in town, actually it is the debut of a new producer’s first ever Port which in this case happens to be a 2005 Vintage Port. As this is a topic near and dear to me, I welcomed the opportunity to try a brand spanking new Port that most people have never even heard of, seen or tasted … at least here in the USA.
The owner of the property is Carla Ferreira and her daughter Rita Ferreira is the winemaker. Their property is located in the upper Douro, near Bons Ares a property owned by Ramos Pinto. They have 75 hectares of vineyards and about 85 hectares in total. They were growers for many years and when Rita graduated in 2005, she started making wines on her family’s property.
In addition to this inaugural release of Conceito Vintage Port they also have a red table wine from the 2005 vintage and a white table wine from 2006, along with a 2006 Branco Meio-seco (white half dry) all of which utilize the name Conceito. Rita’s plan is to release a second label for another white and red wine this year. Conceito or “concept” is named after the Ferreira’s way of conceptualizing their own wine. Stylistically, Rita would like to achieve wines of elegance and balance, rather than extraction and power.
2005 Conceito Vintage Port – offers the most creative Vintage Port package I've seen since in years and the name translates to “Concept.” Rarely do I get too excited by the inaugural release by new Port producers, but winemaker Rita Ferreira has done a fine job with her first VP. Fragrant smoky nose of prune, lingonberry and an earthy character. Medium-bodied, this '05 delivers a stylistically dry presence with tart dark cherry and cranberry flavors. A harmonious VP at this stage with plenty of acidity, gentle but fine, drying tannins and nice pure grape flavors on the medium length aftertaste. I look forward to trying future renditions of Conceito. Drink now through 2020. 88-90 points (1/13/08)
Visit the Conceito Vinhos website.
FONSECA ORGANIC PORT
Fonseca’s Terra Bella “Bio” Reserve Ruby Port – This is the first certified organic Port by The Fladgate Partnership, the grapes come from a vineyard that has been involved with organics for 15 year. Even the aguardente (from Spain) is organic! What a crazy nose, lagar like aromas of freshly crushed grapes and fresh cut flowers. Great purity of fruit. This is what I think of as a complex fruit-bomb. Absolutely intense on the palate with a sweet and jammy presence, almost like pancake syrup in the mouthfeel. Fully resolved tannins lead to a long and luscious finish. Terra Bella shows like an exotic, bold LBV. I opened this while tasting Port with Paul Gregutt (wine writer for the Seattle Times) who absolutely loved it! Suggested price is $23. 90 points (1/4/07)
AND NOW COMES MILLER TIME
For you purists out there, this is not really Port, as in the type that comes from Portugal. But hold on a second, don’t run away just yet, this is really good juice! Gary Miller sent me a pair of his newly released port style of wines from grapes farmed in Napa Valley. Gary has an interesting story as his Miller Wine Works puts out an array of Pinot, Syrah and he loves to work with Grenache.
Originally, Gary was an electrical engineer and then decided what he wanted to be when he grew up. No, it was not a winemaker. He went to the Culinary Institute of America (NY) and became a chef and worked in fine dining restaurants for 13 years. He then went decided his real passion was in pairing food and wine, so he picked up and moved to CA in 1999, worked at La Jota, spent time during crush at Martinelli and then worked for Robert Biale, (Zin master in Napa) for five years.
Although Gary has never been to Portugal, he makes his wine from a leased space in an industrial park in Sonoma and would be happy to have anyone who reads this, get in touch and visit next time you’re in his neck of the woods. He uses Portuguese cultivars, Tinta Cao 60%, Touriga Nacional 10% and Souzao 30% then removes the stems and foot treads the grapes in ½ ton picking bins. He used to use grape neutral spirit but found that cheaper was not better and now utilizes a much better brandy to arrest his fermentations (which is 7x more expensive than what he was using). He has done two tiny releases so far and my tasting notes follow:
Both the first and second releases were put in 375 ml bottles (only) and he now sells to 15 states in the U.S. but only made 98 cases and 200 cases respectively. His selling price is $22 per bottle.
Teodoro Port Sage Canyon Vineyard Napa Valley, CA – FIRST RELEASE - Dark magenta color with a glint of violet on the edge. Nice aromas of red berry fruit, earthy, vanilla and cocoa powder. Medium-bodied, soft and smooth mouthfeel. Spicy on the palate and red fruits prevail, this shows a freshness and solid balance that reminds me of a good LBV. The finish has some staying power but shows some slight heat. This was his first release which is a blend of 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages. 83-85 points (1/5/07)
Teodoro Port Sage Canyon Vineyard Napa Valley, CA – 2ND RELEASE – I liked this quite a bit better as it is richer and more balanced and less alcohol protrudes on the finish. Darn good domestic port, from the bunch I’ve had, although admittedly … it has been awhile. Simple and straight forward tasty juice with good purity of ripe flavors and a deft hand with the spirit in this rendition. I opened a 2nd batch for 2 Port loving friends who both scored this higher than me and really enjoyed this one. 85-87 points (1/5/07)
Miller Wine Works LLC
Napa, CA 94558-0314
P / F 707.254.9727