A warming glass of port is always a good choice for the winter holidays – especially when paired with decadent desserts. The SSU Wine Sense Club was able to experience this recently with a tasting of 5 special dessert wines made by Trentadue Winery in Geyersville, California. See: http://www.trentadue.com/.
The Basics of Making Port
The tasting was hosted by Assistant Winemaker, Shane Ryan, who described how they grow the grapes and make the wine in this Alexander Valley AVA of Sonoma County. Port is made differently than still wine in that the grapes are typically picked at a higher degree of ripeness, such as 27-28 brix. They are then fermented at hot temperatures, and the fermentation is stopped when the wine is still sweet (usually at 9 to 10% sugar or 90 to 100 gpl) by the addition of grape spirits. This causes the alcohol level to be higher – generally between 18 and 20%. It is then aged in older oak barrels – the length of time depending on the style the winemaker is trying to produce.
Top Scoring Ports of the Evening
The favorite wine of the night was the 2007 Trentadue Zinfandel Port ($25), which had dark blackberry jam and chocolate notes. A true dessert in a glass! The second place favorite was the 2005 Trentadue Petite Sirah Port AV Estate ($25). This wine was a big chewy mouthful of blueberry and dark cherry with plush tannins, and a very long and satisfying finish.
Decadent Desserts to Pair With Port
Chef Giani created a nice variety of dessert to pair with the ports. She prepared a vanilla cheesecake to match the floral/carmel notes of the white viognier port, and then presented a nice contrast with Peanut Butter Bars and Espresso-Chocolate Pots De Crème to try with the three red ports. Participants had a hard time deciding which one worked best, because they were all so scrumptious! A nice way to end the semester….