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Not Just Any Port In A Storm

Northside Staff Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Mickey Ireland, Alan Danielson, Byron Metcalf, Mike Yowhan, Jon Wentworth, and Alice Peters.

Port wine, or Porto, is a sweet, fortified wine made in the Douro region of northern Portugal, inland from the coastal city of Oporto, after which the wine is named. Grape juice destined to become port is partially fermented, then brandy is added. This fortifies the wine and stops the fermentation, leaving natural, unfermented sugar in the finished wine.

The most famous style of port is called Vintage port. These are the best ports of exceptional vintages. Bottled two years after the vintage, they require ten to twenty years of additional age to achieve the mellowness required for pleasurable drinking. These wines are quite expensive.

Late bottled vintage (LBV) port is much more wallet friendly. LBV's are produced from a single vintage, but, unlike vintage ports, are aged four to six years in vat, thus making them smoother and ready to drink immediately after bottling. Usually priced in the $15-$25 range, the best are excellent values.

The staff of Northside Wine & Spirits recently conducted a blind tasting of eight LBV ports. The favorite, the Churchill's 1998 LBV, $23 per bottle, was rich and sweet, full of grapy fruit--a delicious wine. Although it didn't finish first, the Graham's 1998 LBV, $21 per bottle, received the two highest scores given by any of the tasters. Less sweet than Churchill's, it had a lovely elegance and complex bouquet and flavor. Either of these ports would be a fine choice on a cold winter's night by the fire.

"Top Wine Picks" as seen in The Ithaca Journal February 21, 2005

Northside Wine & Spirits is located at the Ithaca Shopping Plaza on Elmira Road.

Phone 607-273-7500.

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