Of Port and werewolves

 

The one thing Port lovers and werewolves have in common, is the appreciation of a full moon. Though the moon’s effects are not as important for the port lovers, the way the light shines through the Port and emphasizes its dense, golden/amber/ruby colour, is. So, how better to celebrate the Harvest Moon than with a glass of Port? How about with a flight of Taylor Fladgate 10, 20, 30 and 40-year-old Tawny Ports while overlooking the city of Toronto from Thompson Hotel rooftop with a group of iYellow guests poised to party.
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On the September 19th eve, the celestial bodies have aligned and the night nor the venue choice could have been better for such a warm, clear night with an astonishing rooftop view overlooking the Harvest Moon illuminated city – food for eyes.
As usual, early arrival allowed for me to take uninterrupted pictures of the setting before it filled with guests. Once enough pictures were captured, I turned my attention to the venue’s layout, with six booths placed strategically such that guests could freely move around, taste and enjoy the Ports and admire the view. With my friend accompanying me, we walked about sampling, reviewing and discussing the Ports (reviews are listed below) amongst ourselves and with other patrons. We befriended lady, by the name Shelby, who towards the evening revealed herself as the Taylor Fladgate representative and gifted us with two books titled “Taylor Fladgate – The Story of a Classic Port House”.

 

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“The ingenuity of mankind focused towards resourcefulness (in other words – cost saving) has often proven to achieve more than the original intent was.”

 

 

The story of Port
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The common belief of how Port came to be, is that 17th century merchants wanting to cut costs of shipping Portuguese wine to England, thought of an idea whereby the addition of alcohol (distillate of grape leftovers) to fermenting wine (thus halting the conversion of sugar into alcohol) would produce sweet wine high in alcohol that could be diluted with water at its final destination. Whatever the factual history, the practice resulted in fortified wine establishing itself as a recognized style in the realm of wines.
Some of the varieties that are used to make Port are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, Tinta Amarela, Tinto Cão and Tinta Barroca. Ports come in variety of styles including the below reviewed Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), Vintage and Tawny that are aged in oak for at least 2 years; the latter being a blend of several vintages and labelled as 10, 20, 30 and 40-year-old (the official categories) – ages that generally indicate a target age at which the Port is deemed ‘ready to drink’, instead of the Port’s actual age.
The night’s Ports came from one of the oldest Port houses, Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman, which is a family owned venture established in 1692 by English merchant Job Bearsley, but the house didn’t acquire its current Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman name until 1838, when three men, after whom its named, formed a partnership. Today, Taylor Fladgate (as is commonly known) is one of the largest Port houses.
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Tasting notes
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The 2008 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port has intense aromas of black cherry, prune, caramel and light walnut. It is a full bodied, sweet, integrated, fortified wine; with balanced sweetness, forward acidity, subtle tannins (no need for decanting) and a medium to long, non-syrupy finish. Drink as an apéritif, drink now – 2018+. My impression: quite NICE, 89 points – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 89 pts. $18.45 LCBO 46946
The Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port has intense aromas of stewed prune, plum and roasted walnuts. It is a full bodied, sweet, integrated to aged port; with good acidity, and a medium to long finish. Drink as a desert; drink now – 2020. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 pts – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 92 pts. $34.95 Essentials 121749
The Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port has intense aromas of prune, butter scotch and pecans. It is a full bodied, sweet, aged port; with good acidity, subtle tannins (no need for decanting) and a long, slightly warm finish. Drink as a desert; drink now – 2020. My impression: BEAUTIFUL to DIVINE, 93 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 93 pts. $68.95 Essentials 149047
The Taylor Fladgate 30 Year Old Tawny Port has intense aromas of slightly stewed cherry, raisin and pecan. It is a full bodied, integrated fortified wine; tad on the acidic and sweet side without body support, thought the finish is long. Drink as a desert or with raspberry/strawberry ice-cream; drink now – 2020. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 pts.
Score 92 pts. $180.95 Vintages 540252
The Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old Tawny Port has a captivating bouquet of dried prune, figs, caramel, clove, cinnamon and subdued walnuts. It is a full bodied, aged port; with good acidity and a long finish. Drink as a desert or with aged, dry or smoked cheeses; drink now – 2018+. My impression: BEAUTIFUL to DIVINE, 95+ pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 95+ pts. $239.95 Vintages 540260
The 2011 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port has intense aromas of cooked sour cherry, ripe dates, blackberry and vanilla. It is a full to thick bodied, fruity, fortified wine; with good acidity and a medium finish. Drink as an apéritif; drink now – 2020+. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 91+ pts.
Score 91 pts. $139.00 Special order from Vintages.com
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Contrary to the above mention, Taylor Fladgate Tawny Ports are actually aged in seasoned oak barrels for the indicated 10, 20, 30 and 40 years.

 

 

Just as the party was peaking, Angela Aiello, the organizer and founder of iYellow Wine Club, made her entry shortly after 9 pm, explaining that she just landed, coming back from Australia. I’ve known Angela to be a very energetic young lady, but showing no signs of jet lag after a 16 hour flight and more than 20 hours total in transit surprised me – the extent of her energy became even more evident. Angela welcomed the already-settled-in patrons, talked about the significance of the event and described the Ports. Everyone enjoyed the evening, which surely was one of the more memorable evenings of this year – a moonlight party the werewolves could only hunger after.

 

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To Angela Aiello and Mandy Schnurr – thank you for the invitation to such a special event.

 

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