Ramos Pinto 2014 “Duas Quintas” Douro

Duas Quintas

This wine’s name, Duas Quintas (“Two Vineyards”), refers to the sources of its grapes, the Quinta de Ervamoira vineyard on the Douro Valley’s hot, dry lower slopes, and the cooler, breezy Quinta dos Bons Ares vineyard high up the mountainside. A blend of the Port varieties Tinta Barroca (40%), Touriga Franca (30%), Touriga Nacional (20%), and Tinta Roriz (10%), this is a clear but dark reddish-purple wine, showing ruby glints against the light. Its pleasant aroma of fresh but not overbearing fruit is focused on blackberries and black plums with a faint background whiff of spice. Clean, fresh and rather full-bodied black-fruit flavors carry over on the palate, shaped by brisk acidity, with tannic astringency present but palatable. The label claims 13.5% alcohol, standard strength for a red table wine.

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Dow 2014 “Vale do Bomfim” Douro

Vale do Bomfim

Made from traditional Port grapes, Tinta Barroca (30%), Touriga Nacional (25%), Touriga Franca (25%), Tinta Roriz (15%), and Tinto Cão (5%), this wine from the Symington family’s historic Dow Port house is dark garnet in color almost all the way to the edge. It seems closed at first, showing simple black fruit, but opens up a bit with time in the glass to reveal notes of something like cranberries and a whiff of licorice. Black fruit and licorice show on the palate in a ripe flavor built on a sturdy structure of tart acidity and firm, astringent tannins. Although 14.5% alcohol is claimed, I don’t detect the bite of heat that sometimes comes with higher-alcohol wines.

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Leacock’s “Rainwater” Medium Dry Madeira

Leacock's "Rainwater" Madeira

Pretty, bright and clear reddish-gold color, somewhere on the spectrum between copper and bronze. Delicious characteristic Madeira aroma, walnuts and a whiff of lemon that carry over on the palate with a back note of something intriguingly akin to dark chocolate. Good acidity to give structure, balancing a distinct note of fresh-fruit sweetness, and there’s a bit of warmth on the back of the palate from 18% alcohol. Walnuts and mouth-watering citrus lingering in a very long finish.

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Check this Wine-Searcher.com list for a broad selection of Madeira in many price ranges, with links to find online vendors around the world. Read article.

Recanati 2015 Galilee Israel “Yasmin Red”

Recanati Yasmin Red

A red blend of 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 percent Merlot, this Kosher for Passover and mevushal wine is a clear, medium-dark ruby color. There’s good ripe fruit on the nose, plums and mixed berries, with a hint of the stewed fruit scent that I often pick up in kosher wines subjected to the heat of the meshuval treatment. It’s not unpleasant, though, and the flavor is good and fresh, juicy red-berry fruit, brisk acidity, and a touch of tannic astringency. 13% alcohol

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Any Port in a storm

Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

Who could blame us for feeling that these are not the best of times? Hurricane Irma has ravaged the Caribbean and is set to wallop Florida. Wildfires blanket the West in a shroud of smoke, and a gigantic earthquake shook Mexico last night.
Knowing all this makes it difficult for me to complain that it has been unseasonably chilly around here. On the other hand, the return of cooler weather brings certain benefits for the wine lover, whose thoughts may now shift from crisp, cooling summer whites to the possibility of an after-dinner glass, or two, of Port.

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Taylor Fladgate 2011 Late Bottled Vintage Port ($26.99)

Taylor Fladgate

Deep purple, with ruby glints against the light. Classic Port scents of black and blue fruit, plums, blackberries and blueberries with a sense of heat on the nose from its fortified 20% alcohol. Full-bodied and sweet on first tasting, black fruit and a whiff of fennel, fresh and clean, fills the mouth with bright acidity, powerful tannins and alcoholic heat. For all of that power, it’s nicely rounded and balanced, with blackberry and plum fruit lingering with astringent tannins in a very long finish.

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For a good primer on Late Bottled Vintage and an extensive catalog of LBVs and vendors, check this page on Wine-Searcher.com. Read article.