Archive for Vintage Port


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , , , on December 17, 2009 by ballymote

For those of you who have never experienced the joys of Port you owe it to yourself to part with more than a few bucks for a bottle of Vintage Port. There are several different types of Port wine, Ruby, Tawny, Late Bottled and some others. Vintage port is in a league of its own. Here is a little bit of what it’s all about.

Port wine comes from the Douro region in the north of Portugal. Port retains its unique sweetness in contrast to other wines because the fermentation process that greatly reduces the sugar content of the grapes is halted halfway through by the addition of a special grape brandy that is added to the mix. The addition of the brandy raises the alcohol level of the wine to nearly 20%. In very good years, those characterized by mild winters and hot summers, a vintage year is declared. This happens, on average, about 3 times a decade.

 Vintage port spends two years in a cask and is then bottled. It has the ability to age for many years.  The declared vintages for this first decade of the 21st century are the 2000, 2003 and 2007. Two Vintage ports from 1994 were rated 100 points by Wine Spectator magazine and the prices, if you can find a bottle of either, skyrocketed from the mid $50.00 mark to several hundred dollars per bottle.  Vintage port should be allowed to stand upright for a while before opening to allow the “crust” or sediment to float to the bottom. Once opened, Vintage port should be decanted and allowed to “breathe” for 2 to 3 hours before serving. They should also be consumed within 24 to 48 hours after opening as oxidation begins to take place almost immediately.

 Vintage ports are not wines to serve with food. They go well with a Stilton Cheese or other cheeses from the “bleu” family. Some prefer chocolates with port. It is definitely a dessert type wine. Many connoisseurs enjoy a cigar or pipe with a glass of Vintage port.

It may not be for everyone but Vintage Port is something totally unique in the world of wine and certainly worthy of a try. You may become a fan!


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , on November 30, 2009 by ballymote

Most wine shops have over 30 Spanish wines under $10.00. If you have no idea what wine you are looking for, pick any one of these wines and you have a good chance of finding something drinkable.

A Vintage Port is declared only in years when the grape crop in Portugal is exceptional. It usually happens about 3 years per decade. Thus far this decade, the  2000, 2003, & 2007 have been declared vintage years for port. It is expected that the 2008 vintage will join those ranks. Vintage port will age for many years and although pricey, is something well worth trying. It’s unusually different from other wines and delicious, too.

England’s Prince Charles was recently in Canada and while at Niagara College for a wine tasting described the wines of that area as “brilliant”.

90% of all wine produced in the USA comes from California.

In the United States, for a wine to be labeled by its varietal name, i.e., Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, etc, at least 75% of that grape must have been used to produce that bottle.

more later…..


Posted in Shopping for Wine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by ballymote

Perhaps a better title for this post would be Wine Shopping at and on the way to the Jersey Shore. I took the opportunity of my week in Avalon to visit a number of wine outlets to see what was available to those on vacation in the area. What I found was that the selection varies greatly from store to store as do retail prices. I guess it’s only natural to expect to pay a little more for all items, including wine, when you are on vacation and that pretty much proved to be the norm. Here is a breakdown on the places I visited.


This one is located on Route 40 just pass the intersection of Route 54 in the town of Buena using the back roads to the Jersey Shore. The first thing that caught my eye was the preponderance of local wines from NJ vineyards throughout the area. If you are looking for your favorite Blueberry wine, and who isn’t, this would be the place you’d want to be shopping. They also have a large selection of what I refer to as “plonk” wines, the Cavits, Hacienda’s, Turning Leaf’s of the wine world. If you search real hard though you can find a handful of decent choices such as Franciscan Cab at $25.99, the always dependable, Menage a Trois red blend at $11.49. For the real Aussie fans there is even a couple of Two Hands Shirazes, Lily’s Blend at $56.99 and Angels Share at $33.99.  It’s not a place where I would spend much time browsing the selections but you can find something of interest in a pinch.


Located on OceanView-Woodbine Rd in Woodbine NJ, this store sits a few miles from busy Rt 9 which leads to access to many Jersey shore resort towns. You would expect that a wine outlet in this area would have a well-stocked and varied supply of wines. You’d be wrong. Campark’s focus is on beer and maybe I shouldn’t blame them as there is no question beer is the drink of choice for the hordes arriving for vacations at the beach. The few wines aside from the “plonk” brands that are available would be the Columbia Crest “Two Vines” series that usually sell for about $7.99 elsewhere marked at $12.99 at Campark. The always dependable Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva is there for $29.99 and if you want to spend a few bucks for a Chardonnay there is the Husic at a brisk $44.99. One interesting find on a shelf marked “Sale Wines” was a lone bottle of Cockburn Vintage Port 1997, for $34.99. This usually sells for $65 – $80. I was tempted, but ended up being concerned as to how well it had been preserved in this store. Interestingly, this Campark Liquors sold one of the two winning tickets in the 2007 Mega Millions Jackpot of 350 million dollars. Buying a lottery ticket would be a better idea than buying a bottle of wine here. Just my opinion, though.


Located at 23rd and Dune Drive, Avalon Liquor Store manages to cram an awful lot of stock into its meager space. I am pleased to report that although you will definitely pay a few more sheckles per bottle than back in your own neighborhood, Avalon Liquor has a tremendous selection of quality wines available year round. Their Australian collection is top notch with all of the Mollydookers available including the top of the line Velvet Glove ($224.99).  The entry level Mollydookers such as The Boxer, The Maitre’d and Two Left Feet are all $32.99 as compared to $28.99 and $24.99 in most wine outlets. If the lottery ticket you bought at Campark Liquors turns out to be a winner you might purchase the 2005 Chateau Pavie for $550.00 (about $50.00 more than most places charge). They have an excellent selection of Pinot Noirs, Cabernet’s and Zinfandels. They also have some of my favorite QPR wines available such as Pillar Box Red for $13.99 (12.99 at home) and Strong Arms Shiraz $11.99 ($9.99 at home). It takes awhile to make sense of the layout of the wines but there is enough good stuff in this store to keep a wine geek busy browsing for quite some time. Kudos to Avalon Liquor for being a top notch wine outlet in a town with some really good BYOB’s.


Located at 6400 Landis Ave. in Sea Isle City, Kix is a good place to buy your beer for your time at the shore. There wine supply is limited and not very impressive. They have all the usual plonk suspects and a few real wines such as Zin 91 at $18.99, a Silver Oak Cab for more money than I wanna spend and the always present Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva at $31.99. My advice would be to grab a six pack of Smythwick’s at Kix and pay the $1.50 to drive over the bridge into Avalon and get your wine at Avalon Liquors; but hey, that’s just me!