The term "Vins de liqueur" is used by the French. Fortified wines start there life just like regular wine, then the fermentation is interrupted by adding a neutral spirit, usually brandy. There are many rules and different types of fortified wines, but that is the gist. Historically, it was started to stabilize and preserve wines from long sea journeys. Let’s welcome in Certified Sommelier Chris Arora to pour, describe, and discuss a few selections of “Fortified Wines”. Here are some definitions to start our journey, then the lineup....
Port Wine Port is produced exclusively in the Wine Region of the Douro, in the North of Portugal and it can be divided into three distinct categories: white, tawny and ruby. Always sweet, usually delicious.
Sherry is a fortified white wine from Andalucía, Southern Spain near the city of Jerez, and it has been made for centuries. Most of it is dry and meant to be paired with food. The wine is tank-fermented, just like regular wine, then fortified but the "trick" is it stays under a blanket of yeast called “flor”, which protects the wine from oxidation.
Ok?! Here we go.
DOMECQ, La Ina Fino, Sherry
La Ina always has its own likable style. It's fresh, with plenty of apple character, and always dry as a bone. Maybe it won't overwhelm or surprise, but if served properly chilled, La Ina always satisfies. A quintessential aperitif with tapas and finger foods.
Lustau, Amontillado Los Arcos, Sherry
Lustau calls it dry but Los Arcos definitely has some aromatic and palate sweetness. The nose settles on brown sugar, peach, mixed nuts and honey. It's not super tight or acidic, and thus the palate drips maple and molasses. Medium-bodied and balanced, but with that shot of sugar offset by honest but mellow acids.
Bodegas Hidalgo, Pedro Ximenez Triana, Sherry
Deep brown in the glass with amber edges, sweet but not cloying, rich mouthfeel with notes of dates, brown sugar, and creme brûlée, long lingering finish
Barros Lagrima, White Port
Rich aromas of butterscotch and burnt match give way to medium sweet fruit character with notes of honey, green almond and orange blossom.
Statement, 10yr, Tawny Port
A dry wine, this offers intense acidity, bitter chocolate flavors and dried raisins. Full of complex aromas and flavors, it's full in the mouth, finishing dry with an intense aftertaste
Statement, 2006, Vintage Tawny Port
Surprisingly delicious young port. Great nose, sweet, and with only a hint of sharpness in the taste. Perfect with deserts, try with beef!
Justino’s, Madeira Colheita 1996, Vintage Madeira Port
High-toned notes of vanilla, nuts and preserved greengages on the nose. The palate is a delight, the sweetness admirably balanced by tangy acidity. Lovely examples of modern single-harvest Madeira.