Port style and Late Harvest wines have sweeter profiles than other wines. Port, is traditionally made with Portuguese grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz. Alcohol, usually grape brandy, is added during fermentation, which fortifies the wine. Late harvest wines are made from grapes high in brix/sugar content that are left to hang on the vines and harvested late for concentrated flavor. Both styles have higher alcohol levels but are exceedingly delicious and can also be kept longer after opening than traditional wines.
Here are capsule reviews of Port style and Late Harvest wines you may find along the wine road.
Cast 2017 Late Zinfandel Fortified
The whimsical logo on the bottle of the CAST 2017 Late Zinfandel is a hint to the magical delights within. Made with Watson Old Vine Zinfandel grapes and blended with 191 proof distilled spirits, the Late is a marvel of fortified fruity finesse. On the nose toffee, vanilla coffee bean, black plum and spicy black carnation. The palate is full and bright with flavors of baking spice, dried cherry, praline, brandied pear and marzipan. Pair with an array of aged cheese’s that will balance and enhance the rich flavors of the wine.
Dutton Estate 2017 Sweet Sisters Late Harvest Syrah, Russian River Valley
The Dutton Estate 2017 Sweet Sisters Late Harvest Syrah is a sumptuous mélange of scents and flavors. On the nose, deep aromas of caramel, blackberry, black cherry, mocha and clove. On the palate, the Syrah shines bright with flavors of mint, dark chocolate, eucalyptus, rum raisin, and raspberry. It’s like a liquid version of the Thin Mint! Velvety, yet light, this wine shows how subtlety and balance is the key to late harvest richness. Pair with S’mores or a dense Orange Olive Oil cake.
ABV 14.2 %
Pedroncelli 2016 Vintage Port Four Grapes Dry Creek Valley
The 2016 Pedroncelli Vintage Port Four Grapes is an authentic representation of the style using a field blend of traditional Portuguese grapes—30% Tinta Madera 30% Tinta Cao, 20% Souzao, and 20% Touriga Nacional. Smooth, rich and velvety it’s like a warm embrace. On the nose notes of caramel, brown sugar, baking spice, fig newton and blackberry preserves. On the palate balanced flavors of mocha, black cherry, cinnamon, toffee and molasses with a hint of clove on the finish. It’s a great pleasure to drink now, yet it will continue to develop with age. Pair with a classic Blue Stilton cheese.
Ramazzotti 2013 Rapport Zinfandel Red Dessert Wine
The Ramazzotti 2013 Rapport Zinfandel Red Dessert wine is fortified with Everclear—the grain alcohol, not the band. The Zinfandel grapes combined with the high proof alcohol create a fresh and fruity wine that’s a little bit Port and a whole lot of Zin. It’s wonderfully balanced and light with the scent of sun-warmed berries and light mocha. On the palate black cherry, molasses, caramel apple, warm toffee, ripe fig and baking spice. Easy, smooth and mellow, sip after sip. Pair with a decadent chocolate bread pudding.
Trentadue 2019 Zinfandel Port, Alexander Valley
On the nose the 2019 Trentadue Zinfandel Port has an engaging light scent of violets with secondary aromas of mocha, coffee, ripe black cherry and plum. On the palate it presents flavors of Raisinets, the classic chocolate covered raisin treat and notes of chocolate covered caramel, much like Rollo’s (the elegant cousin to Milk Duds). It’s a veritable trip to the movie house concession stand for all the nostalgic favorites. The long warm finish lingers with notes of dried fruit, black plum and molasses. At only four years of age it’s still very young and will certainly deepen and develop over time. Pair with your favorite old movie.
Trione Vineyards and Winery 2010 Fortified Zinfandel, Rockpile Peak Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
What a treat this is. The Trione Vineyards 2010 Fortified Zinfandel from Rockpile Peak Vineyard is well aged at 13 years old! On the nose brandied cherries, chocolate covered raisins, and toffee. It’s rich and heady. On the palate it’s full of lush flavors of chocolate covered cherries, mocha, caramel apple and fruitcake—really high-end fruitcake. Not the kind of fruitcake that gets re-gifted from year to year, but one you’ll want to keep. Warm and luscious with a long mellow finish. Pair it with a roaring fire and a good book—it’s all you need.