What does it mean when a wine is fortified?
When a wine is fortified, alcohol is added to the wine to:
- Protect it from spoiling
- Bolster its body, warmth, and sturdiness
The alcohol added is usually a neutral grape spirit.
Name 2 styles of fortified wines.
Ports are fortified _____ fermentation.
Sherries are fortified _____ fermentation.
Ports = during fermentation
Sherries = after fermentation
Regarding sweetness vs. dryness:
Port is always _____.
Why is Port always sweet?
Port is always sweet because fermentation is interrupted and stopped by the addition of alcohol (neutral grape spirit) which kills the yeasts, leaving the wine very sweet and high in alcohol.
Where does Port come from?
Port comes from the Douro region in northeast Portugal; specifically, it comes from the Upper Douro.
“Upper” meaning the up-river direction of the Douro River, which flows from Spain through Portugal into the Atlantic.
Is Port wine usually a single varietal or a blend?
Local black grapes are what traditionally constitute the blend of Port.
Is Port wine usually a single vintage or a blend of vintages?
Usually a blend of vintages.
It’s the maturation process of Port that determines _______.
what style of Port the wine will be.
List the most ubiquitous styles of Port.
Of these, which style is going to be the most oxidative?
- Ruby-style Ports
- Ruby Port
- Reserve Ruby Port
- LBV Port (Late Bottled Vintage)
- Vintage Port
- Tawny-style Ports (most oxidative)
Which styles of Port are the most simple, straightforward and fruity?
How are Reserve Ruby Ports different from Ruby Ports?
Reserve Ruby Ports generally are of higher quality than Ruby Ports.
Better grapes are used and they are matured longer than Ruby Ports.
Remember: maturation determines the style of Port, not the grapes.
What does LBV stand for?
Late Bottled Vintage
LBV Ports are wines from a single vintage, but they spend a few years in oak before being bottled.
How do LBV Ports differ from Vintage Ports?
- Good quality grapes from a single vintage
- Aged for several years in oak before bottled
- Flavor falls somewhere between fruity Ruby and mellow Tawny
- Do not require decanting
- Do not need further bottle aging
- Made in good, but not great, vintages
- Moderately priced
- Highest-quality grapes from a single vintage
- Aged just a few years in oak before bottled
- Flavor is intense, concentrated, and complex
- Require decanting
- Require bottle aging
- Made only in exceptional vintages
Which is likely to have higher tannins, more sediment, and greater concentration: LBV or Vintage Port?
LBV spends more time in cask than Vintage Port so it is exposed to more oxygen, its tannins resolve, and its sediment precipitates out while in oak.
Are Vintage Ports made every single year?
Vintages have to be “declared” by Port producers in the Douro and are declared only in exceptional vintages.
Where do Tawny Ports get their tawny color?
Tawny Ports spend years, sometimes decades, in small oak casks, exposing the wine to extensive amounts of oxygen. This oxidation turns the wine color from red to brown-ish (tawny).
Describe the profile of a Tawny Port.
- High alcohol
- Full body
- Dried fruits
- Oxidative flavors (nuts, caramel)
What are some of the age indications seen on Tawny Ports?
- 10 Year
- 20 Year
- 30 Year
- 40 Year
The older the age indication, the more complex, brown in color, and oxidative it will be.
Where is Sherry produced?
In southwestern Spain in and around the town of Jerez de la Frontera.
Is Sherry made in a singular style or a broad range of styles?
Sherry is made in a broad range of styles, from pale and bone dry to opaque and sticky sweet.
What are the 2 prominent grapes used in Sherry?
- Pedro Ximénez
What is the grape in PX?
What is the grape in Fino, Oloroso, and Amontillado Sherries?
How is PX (Pedro Ximénez) made?
Pedro Ximénez grapes are dried in the sun prior to fermentation to concentrate the sugars.
After fortification the wine is aged oxidatively, which is where it gets its opaque, near-black color from and intense prune and coffee-like flavors.
Not only is PX its own style of Sherry, it is also used as a _____.
sweetening agent for Cream Sherries.
Besides PX, what are 3 other styles of sweet Sherry?
- Pale Cream
- made from Fino
- made from Amontillado
- made from Oloroso
In Sherry, what is the step following fortification?
Aging in a solera system.
Describe a solera system.
A fractional blending system which has levels, or rows, of old oak barrels that hold wines at varying stages of development.
The wines in the barrels are regularly blended together as they age to ensure a consistent style for the house.
What are the 3 most important styles of dry Sherry?
What helps differentiate the 3 dry styles of Sherry?
- Length of aging in the solera;
- Environmental conditions around and in the solera, including humidity and heat.
What is flor?
A layer of yeast that develops on the surface of the Sherry (Sherry barrels are filled only 3/4 full).
Flor protects the wine from heavy oxidation although oxidation still occurs, albeit slowly.
Is aging under flor considered oxidative aging or biological aging?
Aging under flor = biological aging
To what abv is Fino Sherry fortified prior to aging in solera?
Yeasts can still survive at this level of alcohol, which is why flor develops on Finos.
Describe the profile of a typical Fino Sherry.
- Low alcohol (for fortified wine)
- Pale in color (pale lemon)
- Notes of green apple
- Light oxidative notes (yeast/biscuit, almond)
In terms of when Fino Sherries show their best:
- Finos should be drunk as young as possible
- Finos should be aged for several years in bottle
Finos should be drunk as young as possible.
Fino Sherries can start to taste stale shortly after they’re bottled, especially if they’re not refrigerated.
Fino Sherries are best served at what temperature?
Finos pair perfectly with tapas and salty snacks.
What is the dry Sherry that does NOT develop flor?
Why doesn’t Oloroso develop flor?
Oloroso is fortified to 17% abv prior to aging in the solera, and flor cannot survive at such a high level of alcohol.
Because Oloroso does not develop flor, how does it age (and what’s the term for it)?
Because there is no flor to insulate and protect the wine, the wine is fully exposed to oxygen and becomes brown in color as it ages.
Flavors in Oloroso include dried fruits, deep caramel, and nuts.
What is significant or particular about Amontillado Sherry and how it ages?
Amontillado starts off aging biologically (under flor) but it’s refortified to Oloroso level (17%); this refortification kills the flor and the wine ends up aging oxidatively.
Because of how Amontillado is made (biologically, then oxidatively), what flavors help define it?
- Bread/bread dough/biscuit (like Finos)
- Nuts, caramel, dried fruits (like Olorosos)