The Sweet Spot: Taylor Fladgate Vargellas Vinha Velha 2009

I had started to write a weekly column on sweet and fortified wines, a passion of mine but I haven’t gotten very far along. Luckily for me, I was given the opportunity to taste one of six vintage ports from Taylor Fladgate’s Quinta Vargellas. This Vargellas Vinha Velha port from the 2009 vintage took my breath away with its rich, plum and black fruit flavors, elegance and finesse on the palate and focused intensity.

This fortified wine comes from very old vines and is a field blend of indigenous varieties. I actually paired the port with a number of different dishes throughout the meal from steak to ice cream. The port held up remarkably well and was actually quite versatile although I imagine its best pairings are aged cheeses, chocolate or as a stand alone finish to a beautiful meal. I’m glad I still have some left to share with friends on another evening.

I still have not made it to the Douro Valley but hope to be there at some point in the coming year. Sipping this port gives such a sense of the terroir and the landscape that you almost feel as if you can see where the grapes struggled to grow. I’ve been thinking about vine stress all day after a particularly good lecture by Christy Cantebury, MW on the subject for the French Wine Society.

I can only begin to imagine the stress that the old vines that make up this port have had to endure through the years. The 2009 vintage was said to be particularly fine because of the restricted yields and low dry growing season.

I would like to see how this port ages in the coming years so I think I’ll have to buy a few bottles to lay down for the future. For today though, I feel a little blessed.

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