Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cheers To The Quinta Santa Eufemia 20 Year Old White Port

Many Americans are familiar with Ruby and Tawny Ports but they have much less familiarity with White Port, known in Portuguese as Porto Branco. White Port is made with a wide variety of white grapes, such as Arinto, Cercial, Codega, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, and Viosinho. It is generally produced in the same manner as Red Ports but, they are usually fermented without any skin contact and commonly aged, for two to three years, in 550 liter oak pipes. White Ports range from dry to sweet, and the sweetest versions are sometimes known as Lagrima. There is also a special category called Leve Seco ("light dry") which has a lower alcohol content, about 16.5%.

White Port is usually consumed slightly chilled and it's very common to mix young White Ports with tonic to make a Port Tonic cocktail. With the heat of the Douro, a Port Tonic is a very refreshing libation and would make for an excellent drink this summer.

A much smaller and unique category of White Ports are those specifically aged for 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years, similar to Tawny aging categories. They are difficult to find locally though at least some are available in Massachusetts. For example, the aged White Ports of Quinta Santa Eufemia (including their 10, 20 & 30 year olds) are available at Julio's Liquors, which is where I purchased a few bottles. And I highly recommend you buy those aged White Ports.

Quinta Santa Eufemia was essentially founded in 1864 by Bernardo Rodrigues de Carvalho and it is now managed by the 4th generation. Located on the left side of the Douro River, the vineyards occupy more than 50 hectares, planted with field blends of 20+ grapes. They produce both table wines and Ports, including a 10, 20 and 30 year old White Port. At this time, they do not produce a 40 year old White Port. I've previously reviewed their 10 Year Old White Port ($25), noting "With a beautiful amber color, it possessed an alluring nose of floral and herbal notes, and on the palate the taste was complex and intriguing, a bit of an oxidative style. It had a tough of honeyed sweetness though it finished dry, and that finish lingers long in your mouth. It is surely a Port to slowly savor, enjoying the multitude of flavors that pass over your palate."noting

For one of my birthday celebrations, I opened a bottle of the Quinta Santa Eufemia 20 Year Old White Port ($25). It too is a blend of at least Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Moscatel Galego, and Rabigato. It is fermented in traditional lagares, granite treading tanks where the grapes are trod on by foot. It was aged for about 9 months in stainless steel and then for at least more 20 years in wooden casks. Only about 60 cases of this wine are produced each year, so supplies are very limited.

Sniffing your glass, you'll be seduced by an alluring blend of honey, floral and herbal scents, with wisps of citrus. On the palate, the complexity of the aromas is still evident, with each sip bringing something new to your mouth. There is a mild sweetness, well balanced by its acidity, with bright honey notes, citrus flavors, and touches of herbs. It is more full bodied and rich, with a long, lingering finish that soothes and satisfies. It would work well with a variety of desserts, though you could also sit and savor it on its own. An amazing Port, I highly recommend this to all wine lovers. It is well worth the effort to seek it out, especially due to its complexity and superb taste.

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