Looking for Port in Birmingham
Does anyone know where I might find a good Port in Birmingham? I am also looking for Vermouth.
Since the law change allowing better ports, I too have been searching (although not diligently). Looking for good 10-year and 20-year tawnies, and Colheitas (which I consider to be far superior to vintages).
Let's keep each other apprised. The bottle shop in downtown Homewood (Classic Wine???) and Western Mt. Brook come to mind immediately. Pleasure is all Vine in Shelby County is another possibility. We should check V Richard's too.
A good port will have a slight alcohol burn from the brandy, but will be rich in dried fruit (which dominate) and floral flavors and have a long, long finish.
Port production starts out like wine, but fermentation is interrupted early by the addition of a neutral spirit before aging takes place in oak barrels. Minimum oak aging, I believe is 3 years.
Vintage ports (those declared by the port house to come from a particularly good year) are further aged in the bottle for at least a decade or more.
Tawny ports age in oak at least 10 years (IE: a "10-year tawny"), which adds to the complexity of the port wine and lightens its color from a deep purple to a red-amber-brown.
There are other variations of ports such as LBV (late-bottled vintage), ruby, etc. There even are white ports.
In my opinion the best is a type called Colheita, which is a vintage port that gets all of its aging in oak (instead of in oak then a bottle), providing the best aspects of both vintage and tawnies. One I bought from Quinto do Noval in Portugal was from the 1976 harvest, then aged in oak until it was bottled in 2000 (the label will include both dates). They're also sturdier once opened than vintage, which oxidizes quickly and should be consumed within 24 hours of opening. Since a colheita has been exposed to oxygen for a decade or more, it maintains its peak flavor longer once opened.
In my opinion, it's not worth wasting the money on vintage ports, because you'll have to hang on to them for a long time before consuming them. The better splurge for top-line port is Colheita (hard to find, though).
You can find some good port among LBV or other middle-tier labels.
But the best general tipple is the tawny. A 10-year tawny from a good port house like Taylor Fladgate runs about $22 in Atlanta (will be interesting to see the price here). The 20-year is sublime (but you'll pay around $50/bottle). Upon tasting a 40-year tawny, you'll wish you were independently wealthy so you could afford to keep drinking it.
BTW: Dark chocolate and a good tawny is an incredible match. People also like blue cheeses like Stilton with a good port.
re: Big Daddy
@Big Daddy That's "Pleasure Is All Wine". And I had good Port there last night! They have great tastings and ordervz (can't be bothered to learn to spell it correctly) once a month. They are great people, too and I think their concept is cool. One of our favorite spots in our neck of the woods.