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The first duty of a Port-style wine is to be dazzlingly rich and sweet, yet balanced in acidity, and this bottling is all that. Waves of blackberry jam, cassis, and dark chocolate are brightened with zesty acidity and the sweetness level is very high.
Is Port service the ending or just the beginning? Traditionally, Port is served at the end of the meal with blue veined cheeses and/or cigars. Guests often find this to be a fitting capper of a well-orchestrated evening. But for some, this is a time of discussion and reflection—perhaps the evening hasn't ended after all? The Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port exhibits ripe berries and raisin notes. The wine's sweetness make a beautiful pairing with an aged double crème blue veined cheese. Drinks well now. (Tasted: July 19, 2016, San Francisco, CA)
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.