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All About Port

Port is a fortified sweet red wine produced in northern Portugal’s Douro Valley region. It is often served at the end of a meal, but it is also a popular choice as a dessert wine and as an after dinner drink.

There are also white, dry and semi-dry varieties of port available. Wines of a similar style to port are produced all over the world.

Producing Port

Port wine is made by adding grape spirit or brandy before the wine has finished fermenting during production, so it keeps some of the natural sweetness and gives it a rich and smooth flavour. The wine is then stored and aged in barrels before bottling.

Some port wines are matured in sealed glass containers that allow no exposure to air. This process is called reductive ageing and results in the wine slowly losing its colour and produces a smoother, less tannic flavour.

Port wine comes in a variety of different styles, each with their own individual flavours, making them a great wine to pair with a variety of dishes. A reserve or a late bottled vintage has intense berry fruit flavours, while an aged tawny or vintage port has a rich mellow flavour.

The grapes used to make port are mostly native to the Portuguese Douro Valley region and grown on the hillsides that border the Douro River and its streams. The climate is ideal for producing the grapes which give port it’s immediately recognisable flavour.

The earliest record of exports of wine called port was around 1678. The wine takes its name from the seaport of Oporto where it was first exported from. Until the 20th century, the wine was taken from the vineyards along the river Douro in special boats and then unloaded into the Port houses that line the narrow lanes of Vila Nova, which sit opposite the old centre of Oporto. From here, the wine would then be aged, blended and bottled before being shipped.

Whilst it is very well loved in its homeland of Portugal, Britain has always had an affinity with port wine and has long been its largest market. Whilst there are many recognisable port producers, it is some of the older brands which have the best recognition and are known for their authentic ports. Port continues to be enjoyed all over the world and has a charm that will no doubt enthral for generations to come.

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Cantina Colli Euganei SCA

 Cantina Colli Euganei SCA is one of the largest Italian wine cooperatives. It brings together around 680 individual winemakers in the protected Euganean Hills Nature Reserve and allows all of their flavourful wines to be perfected and enjoyed.

As members of Cantina Colli Euganei SCA all the winemakers benefit from consulting service and technical training if they want it, as well as the chance to further the distribution of their wines. Cantina Colli Euganei SCA harvest 7 million kilos of grapes every year and 2 million bottles are distributed too, making them the stand out producer in their region. Their range of wines covers many different styles and flavours and they are particularly proud of their location in the Euganean Hills. At the Fine Wine Company, we have selected a range of wines from this producer to showcase the exceptional quality of their range and also the diversity offers.

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On the Grapevine: Syrah

Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape grown throughout the world. Its origins may have been widely debated, but it is commonly thought that its birthplace is the northern Rhone Valley in eastern France.

Despite its French roots, Syrah is regarded as Australia’s national grape and is often referred to as Shiraz by Australian and American drinkers. Some of the highest rated wines using Syrah grapes come from the Barossa Valley in South Australia. In the UK it is also more commonly referred to as Shiraz but both terms are interchangeable.

Also a popular wine in America, it is produced in Northern California, Oregon, Washington and the Central Coast. While the popularity of Syrah in California is often overshadowed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah has really grown in popularity there and there are more exciting Syrah wines being produced on an annual basis.

Syrah grows well in a variety of different environments, but it seems to particularly be at its best when grown in the steep, rocky hillsides in the Northern Rhone Valley. It especially enjoys the area’s limestone, gravelly and sandy soils.

Syrah has a large amount of tannins, producing a full-bodied wine. It has a punchy peppery flavour, with a mixture of berries, chocolate, flowers, liquorice and tobacco. It is a popular wine to serve alongside red meat dishes, although it does go well with most food, especially dishes containing strong flavours.

Syrah is also an ideal grape for blending because of its deep colour and high tannins. In southern Rhone it is common for Syrah to be blended with many other grapes such as Carignan, Cinsaut Grenach and Mourvedre.

Winemakers often cold soak Syrah grapes for several days, sometimes even weeks, because of the grapes’ thick skins and high tannin content. This process increases the colour and fruitiness in the wine and reduces the herbaceous and strong tannin flavours that can overpower.

Syrah rose to fame in the eighteenth century France’s Rhone Valley. Other winemaking regions were making their blends from a mixture of different red grapes, but here, winemakers created a red wine made only from Syrah grapes and the wine really became popular in the town of Hermitage.

Syrah’s popularity attracted several winemakers from other regions around the world. In 1832, winemaker James Busby visited France and collected Syrah vine clippings which he took back with him to Australia. He saw how well the plant did in the Australian climate and it soon became a popular grape to grow with winemakers and continues to be to this day.

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Six Sparkling Wines for Summer

The sun’s out and it’s time for some fizz. There’s nothing nicer than sipping a sweet (or dry) sparkling wine when the sun comes out and at the Fine Wine Company we have plenty for you to choose from. Whether you like to drink it simply ice cold out of the fridge, topped with fresh fruits or combined into a cocktail, these six sparkling wines will brighten up your summer.

Nyetimber, Classic Cuvee, 2010

Nyetimber are committed to being England’s finest producer of sparkling wine and with this 2010 Classic Cuvee, they do not disappoint. Pale gold in colour and full of fine, gentle bubbles, it offers a flavour which is toasty with almonds, smooth with honey and fresh with the touch of baked apple and pastry. Extremely well balanced, with a long citrus-rich finish, the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2010 is a wonderful example of how fabulous English wines can be.

Cantina Colli Euganei Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry DOC, 2015

Cantina Colli Euganei is the biggest wine producer in the Veneto area and their Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry DOC, 2015 is a yellow-green wine with a fine and persistent frothy mousse. It’s packed with fresh and fruity aromas and flavours, with floral notes too. The flavours come together in a soft yet lively fizz on the palate and it is a great sparkling choice as an aperitif.

Bodegas Sumarroca, Cava Brut Reserva, 2013

This 2013 Cava Brut Reserva from Bodegas Sumarroca encapsulates the flavours of a quality Cava. It is made from a mix of grapes from the different estates of the vineyard and it is said to have hints of champagne about it, with an unoaked bready freshness to its flavour. Fine bubbles tickle the palate and the flavour is awash with fresh fruity flavours.

Fresita

Fresita is the pride of Chile and it’s easy to see why. It brings together fine sparkling wines and originally, the fresh flavours of the rare Chilean white strawberry, the first of this kind of fruit ever found. Fresita stands out in the sparkling wines market because it is an infused wine, rich in the flavours of fresh, fragrant grapes and the beautiful handpicked (and now more traditionally red) strawberries of Chile.

Krone, Borealis Brut, 2014

A creamy and toasty biscuit flavoured sparkling wine from South Africa, Krone, Borealis Brut, 2014 is classic in its flavours and has sturdy, persistent bubbles which make it even more enjoyable. The Krone, Borealis Brut, 2014 is produced in the Tullbagh region in South Africa and it has the fresh, sweet flavour of pears and nutty pecan notes. These flavours combined give the classic biscuit flavour that makes this wine so popular.

Hollick, Sparkling Merlot, 2012

Considered a bit of a maverick, Coonawarra wine producer Ian Hollick dared to bring together the vibrancy of sparkling wine with the full-bodied depth of a solid merlot. It’s bright purple hues make it a fun alternative to your classic pink and white sparkling wines and the nose is rich in crushed berries and a hint of kirsch. On tasting you’ll enjoy a sharp cherry mousse with briar and berries and the tang of the tannins in the wine’s long finish.

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A Trip to Tuscany

Tuscany is one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the world, and whilst it only produces 6% of all of Italy’s huge wine yields, what it does produce is of an exceptional quality. Tuscany is renowned for producing some of Italy’s most beloved wines: Chianti and Brunelllo di Montalcino and it is a region which is very popular with wine tourists too.

Tuscany is the oldest of all wine regions in Italy, with vine growth in the area dating back to the 8th century BC, when Etruscans developed the first vineyards and explore the potential of winemaking in the area. The first chianti was documented in the 14th century, although it was a white wine back then.

Tuscany is in the western-central area of Italy, with the Tyrrhenian Sea at its coastline. It benefits from a Mediterranean climate on the coast with hotter Continental climates in the Apennines area. The area is covered in hills which provides its fantastic terroir and there are a huge number of well-regarded wine growing regions and famous wineries.

Italy has quite strict classifications when it comes to its wine but this hasn’t stopped an unofficial category developing in Tuscany. So called Super Tuscans are believed to be the finest Tuscan wines produced. The first ever Super Tuscan was Vigarello, released in 1968. It was made using 100% red grapes with no white in the blend and Sassicaia is another stand-out Super Tuscan known to be made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The advent of Super Tuscans was Italy’s chance to show their red wines are as good as those from any other country in the world. Lots of Super Tuscans are based on the use of the Sangiovese grapes but more and more Bordeaux-blend style wines have been produced. This process requires importing grapes from other regions but the climate in Tuscany has seen them flourish.

Over 80% of the wines produced in Tuscany are red but there is a select growth of white wines too. The fine reds available from Tuscany in our collection include this Da Vinci Chianti (2014) and this Capezzana, Carmignano Villa di Capezzana (2011).