Cape Gazette
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Wine

2011 Ports are blockbusters but need cellar time

By John McDonald | Oct 27, 2013

Jazz fest was terrific! Thank you to the organizers, Delaware Celebration of Jazz, their President Dennis Santangini and all businesses that sponsored music. As usual, the local restaurants and bars outdid themselves bringing in top-quality entertainment for the event. There are many who help put this together, but special kudos to Jen Ellingsworth who was the driving factor for the editing, coordination and creative work that went into the brochure/program of the week’s events.

Jen’s a longtime valuable Cape Gazette employee and the brochure really exhibited her multifaceted talent with print media production.

While I’m on local issues, please make time to participate in the Sea Witch Festival this coming weekend. Longtimers in the Rehoboth-Lewes region will remember when Sammy Ferro and his merry band would end our season on Labor Day, and the villages would roll up many of the sidewalks. Although there are those who preferred the good old days, from my perspective, the chamber of commerce and a large contingent of local business activists have helped grow the town by organizing the many events that have helped make Rehoboth into a year-round destination rather than a three- to four-month beach resort.

Many are touting the 2010 Bordeaux. Most of it is quite good. However, keep your powder dry. Just as the 2009 are beginning to soften in price, so will the 2010. The good buys now are the 2008. I just rounded up a case of Chateau Bienfaisance St. Emilion Grand Cru 2008 rated 92 by Wine Enthusiast, 90-92 by Parker and 90 by WS for $239. That’s $20/bottle for a Stephane Derenoncourt-produced gem. You will remember my caveat, follow the winemaker. Stephane is the superstar consultant du jour en Bordeaux. I have written of him twice in the past year. This wine’s dark purple color said “Air me out.” It opened to a full bouquet of ripe plum and creme de cassis. On the palate medium to full body, complex flavor profile, some cherry, tobacco, leather and licorice with balanced acid/tannin support. Tannins a bit high but will meld by 2015 at latest. If you wish to drink it now, it needs pour over decanting. Best window now to 2022; 90 plus 2 price points. This is an excellent QPR for those who drink Bordeaux with meals.

Port is a bargain these days for big-buck buyers, and the 2011 are blockbusters. Everyone says over 95 points. Problem is, you need to cellar it at least 20 years. Compare Fonseca Vintage Port 1994 to the 2011. Jancis Robinson, my favorite Port critic, gave the 1994 17/20, WS 100 points and Parker 97. It opened at $210 and is selling for $220/ bottle. On the 2011, JR says 19.5/20, her highest port rating I’m aware of; Parker says 97-99. You can buy it for $80, probably $860/case. My advice on Port is buy a vertical case of half bottles and pay the premium. On Fonseca I recommend six each of 2003, ‘07, ‘09 and ‘11. Remember there are 24 halfs (.375ml or 13.75 oz.) per case. Each bottle has just over four 3-ounce servings. Average price/bottle is $46.

Regular readers know I am an avid Snooth reader. Recently they published their readers’ choice inexpensive and expensive lists. Go to Snooth.com and click on Discover Articles, then scroll down for articles about super premium and premium PVA winners for listings of more than 40 selections. Most of them are well chosen. Some I have not sampled yet.

In closing, please try a bottle of Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier, 92 points under $15. Winemaker Mike Beaulac really has his act together. Since 2007, the lowest rating I have on this blend, with 20 percent Viognier, is 89 points. It is a dry, white, food wine where the fruit adds a sense of sweetness. It opens to a lovely bouquet of honeydew, spring flowers, pear and cantaloupe. On the palate is a palette of tropical fruit flavors and crisp acidity. The finish is clean with lovely grapefruit and pineapple nuance. This is not a cellar dweller, so only buy a few at a time unless you are a wino, in which case, a case won’t be enough.

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