Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Unfiltered Porto 2008
I'm going to begin this post with the mom portion of The Sommomlier. The bubs went through a sleep regression last week - he would wake up somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30 every morning. Ouch. This regression happens every few months or so and can be resolved by sticking to a strict nap and bedtime schedule and by not putting him to bed too late. You'd think that it would be more sensible to put him to bed later assuming that he'll "sleep in" until 6:30. However, that only makes him wake up even earlier because he'll be overtired before he's even in his pj's. The more overtired the kid, the less they sleep. It's a vicious cycle, I tell you! While I'm happy to spend the extra time with the little dude in the morning, albeit a bit bleary eyed, it was taking its toll on my ability to form coherent sentences. I needed to find a way to be asleep by 10pm before my slap happy second wind set in so that I could have a shot at feeling rested the next day. So, bringing it back around to wine, Port became my weapon of choice.
Port is a fortified red wine made in the Douro region of Portugal. It has rich, concentrated flavors and is sweet because not all of the sugar in the juice has been converted to alcohol. Fermentation is stopped when the alcohol reaches no more than 9% abv. This can be done in a number of ways, but in the production of Port, a grape based spirit called aguardente is added to the wine. Its high level of alcohol (77% abv) kills the yeast, which stops the fermentation process. This causes the abv to reach 17%, giving the wine an even fuller body and a rich texture. It also provides a pleasant warming sensation as you drink it, along with that lovely cozy, heavy-lidded feeling in the eyes that I was so desperately seeking.
I selected Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Unfiltered Porto 2008. Despite being printed in English, translating the label on a bottle of Port is no easy task. To avoid making your head spin, I'll start with the tip of the iceberg: Vintage!
Most basic Port wines do not have a vintage on the label because it is a blend of wines from multiple vintages, which allows the producer to create a consistent style of Port from year to year. These wines are matured in old oak casks for up to 3 years which begins to mellow the fruitiness of the wine and makes the high level of alcohol be less noticeable. These wines are generally full bodied, fruit forward, and not terribly complex.
Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) Port is made with wine from a single vintage but not necessarily one of the finest years, matured in old oak casks for 4 to 6 years, then filtered before bottling unless otherwise noted. It's meant to be enjoyed shortly after bottling. Compared to non vintage Port, it has richer and more complex flavors and the alcohol is better integrated.
Vintage Port is made with grapes from the best vineyards in only the best years, which usually come around just a couple of times over a span of 10 years. These wines are matured in old oak casks for a short period of time (18 months to 3 years) and are not filtered before bottling. They are meant to age because the wine will develop in the bottle for 20 years or so. You should decant Vintage Port before drinking because it will have a lot of sediment due to being unfiltered. Compared to other styles of Port, Vintage Port will be fuller bodied with even richer flavors and it will have a higher level of tannin.
At last, my notes on the Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Unfiltered Porto 2008. I promise, this will go down much smoother than the last few paragraphs. The wine was very aromatic and flavorful and showed prominent notes of dark raspberry, blackberry, raisin, prune, and chocolate. The medium sweetness was nicely complimented by the wine's full body, chewy tannins, and silky texture. This Port helped me get some earlier Zzzs last week and it's also a good choice for the impending cooler weather. Winter is coming, after all.
Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Unfiltered Porto 2008: Thumbs up. $21.99