Better Late

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’Tis the season for “LBV,” or late-bottled vintage, which is a port category created to offer a vintage-like experience—a dark ruby color, strong tannins and black fruit flavors—without long aging requirements or the bother of having to decant the wine from its sediment. LBVs have a two-week shelf life, make ideal mates for any kind of chocolate and warm the spirit on those dreary sunless days that we have to endure once every few years. These three “desserts in a glass” are the winners of my recent blind taste test.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2009

As the first producer of LBV (originally known as “vintage reserve”), Taylor remains not only the national category leader but the worldwide one. Its usual style is earthy and tobacco-like, with rich fruit and grippy tannins. This superb 2009 selection features an aromatic profile of chocolate mocha, with a velvety, raisin-like sweetness on the palate.

$23, The Wine & Cheese Cask, Somerville

Quinta do Noval Unfiltered Single Vineyard Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2008

This legendary estate is one of Douro Valley’s most renowned single vineyards, and it has produced an irresistible wine with dark cocoa aromas, intensely jammy fruit and prominent tangy acids. Although most LBVs don’t age, this is an unfiltered wine, which allows it to improve in the bottle and mellow in a few years.

$26, Marty’s, Newton

Quinta do Crasto Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2008 

Another unfiltered Quinta bottling, this wine is super-ripe, with a profusion of juicy red and black cherries. Quite sweet, almost candied, and mellow on the palate, it’s got a slightly clove-like spice accent to balance the dark fruit flavors.

$25, DeLuca’s Market, Boston


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