FIRST A FEW WORDS ABOUT PORT
The ordinary process of making wine consists basically of adding yeast to the liquid pressed from ripe sweet grapes. The yeast eats the sugars and produces alcohol, changing the non-alcoholic juice from being sweet to being dry and alcoholic. Port is a wine that is both sweet and high in alcohol. It was discovered quite by accident as a result of 17th century trade wars between Britain and France. The London wine merchants turned to Portugal where they found wine fermented at high temperatures which were dark, astringent red wines that quickly earned them the name ‘blackstrap’ in London. In a determined effort to make sure that these wines arrived in good condition after the long voyage, merchants would add a measure of brandy to the finished wines to stabilize them before shipment. It is also said that a monastery was found where the abbot was adding brandy to the wine during rather than after fermentation, killing off the active yeasts before they ate all the sugars and so producing the sort of sweet, alcoholic red wine that was to become port. Now, modern port production is carried out by adding a standardized 77% alcohol, grape spirit after 24 to 36 hours of initial fermentation resulting in young, sweet, fiery port with a final alcohol content of 19 or 20 per cent. There are two broad categories of port whose characteristics are shaped by either cask aging or bottle aging. There are many different styles of port including Ruby (simplest and least expensive style aged in bulk for two or three years, it is bottled young while the wine retains a deep ruby color and a strong, fiery personality), Tawny (aged in wood so that it loses color and takes on an amber-brown or tawny hue), Aged Tawney (aged in wooden casks for six or more years and takes on a soft, silky character), and more. There is not enough space here to permit a detailed explanation of each, but the list includes Colheita, Vintage, Single-quinta vintage, LBV, Crusted, Garrafeira, White and Moscatel. For more information about port I recommend The Oxford Companion to Wine.
NOW TO THE SUBJECT OF THE DAY
There are a number of port style wines produced in Israel including from Miles Winery, Odem Winery, Adir Winery and others.
But my favorite is the port style fermented pomegranate alcoholic beverage, which, by wine connoisseurs, snobs, pedants and sycophants of the high-and-mighty, is considered neither wine nor port, but I love it.
I have been drinking a small bit every day for the past several years since first tasting it at the winery. It is, for me, an aperitif, although for many it is a digestif. I like to sip it while sitting upstairs on our porch under the grape vine watching the sunset and/or while cooking dinner. Within the past several weeks, the Rimon Winery released three new products, two of which are port style. These are :
1. Rosé Semi-Sweet Pomegranate Wine
2. Easy Port Pomegranate Wine
3. Galilee Premium Pomegranate Port Style Wine
Now, with these new releases, they have three grades of port called Easy, Galilee, and Galilee Premium. Each has its own character in ascending complexity and alcohol content. The Easy is simple, light and flighty, tickling the taste buds and just perfect for the hot summer to cool yourself down after a hard day. It is perfect before, or with, or even after a light meal. I find myself here almost describing the Rosé, but, indeed, they are different. The Rose is true to its name, being pink in color and is thinner with an alcohol content of 13.5 percent. The Easy Port has a more complicated flavor from being in oak casks longer. Its alcohol content is 16 percent.
The original Galilee Port contains 18% alcohol and is aged longer in French oak casks than the Easy. If you like Portuguese Port and are open to new products to expand your tasting experience, I think that you will like the Galilee Port a great deal.
Then there is the new Galilee Premium (pictured above in the Magnum size) which is aged in French oak for 48 months, resulting in 48% evaporation and raising the alcohol content to 18.5 percent. The prolonged exposure to the oak wood results in a mellow drink that is thick and velvety with deep complex flavors. It is expensive but quite fantastic. A very special, high quality delight for your taste buds.
And I recommend a visit to the winery located at an idyllic site in the middle of their pomegranate orchard in the Upper Galilee.
There you will be greeted by the knowledgeable staff who will explain the origins of the orchard & winery, will be given a tasting of their alcoholic products, and will be introduced to their various pomegranate products including oils, jams, juice, and cosmetics. Location and hours can be found at http://www.rimonwinery.com.
Enjoy this short video produced by Ortal, one of the Nachmias family who founded this successful and growing venture.
And don’t forget all the positive health benefits of the pomegranate and its derivatives.
Àvotre santé, or as it is said in Portugal, A sia saide from the israelwinetaster.com