Snooth Live Virtual Tasting: Porto With George Sandeman
Snooth.com, an internationally known wine website, occasionally has live, interactive, educational and super fun virtual tastings. Last month, I participated in a global virtual tasting of Rosés, and I not only discovered some outstanding Rosés from the Willamette Valley, Spain and France, but the tasting was educational and informative. As the tasting is happening, viewers and participating tasters can ask questions via a live chat and get immediate answers from the experts that are seen on a live video stream.
This time, the virtual tasting focused on Port, also known as Vinho do Porto or Porto. Although Port style wines are produced in other regions of the world, only the Ports from Douro Valley can be labeled as a Vinho do Porto or Porto. Porto is a fortified wine, meaning Brandy or some other distilled beverage has been added to the wine, and is typically sweet with layers of flavors ranging from fruity, berry flavors to creamy caramel and chocolate flavors.
The virtual tasting was live from New Orleans with Snooth’s Editor-In-Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz, and George Sandeman, owner of Sandeman, which is a worldwide famous Porto and Sherry brand. As described on the Sandeman Porto Facebook page:
“For more than 200 years Sandeman has handed down expertise from generation to generation to maintain the excellence of their wines, appreciated around the world for their quality and taste, mystery and seduction.”
The four wines that were featured in the tasting were Sandeman 20 years old Tawny Porto NV, Sandeman 10 years old Tawny Porto NV, Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto NV and Sandeman Vau Vintage Porto 2000.
On a gorgeous, 80 degree sunny day in the Willamette Valley, I gathered my necessary items for the tasting and brought them all out on my back patio: my laptop, a note pad and pencil, two stemless Riedel glasses and two of the four Portos – the Sandeman Founders Reserve and the Sandeman 10 years old Tawny Porto NV. I poured a little of each into the two glasses, and I immediately noticed the difference in color between the two.
With Gregory Dal Piaz and George Sandeman on my laptop screen, we started with the Founders Reserve Porto, considered a Ruby Porto. Deep ruby in color, hence the name, the aromas were intense and wonderful, resembling very ripe fruit and pie spice. Vibrant, yet not overwhelming, tannins really balanced out the dark fruit flavors which were carried through to the finish. Rich, full and really quite good.
Before starting the tasting, I had written down several questions about Portos, so while Sandeman and Dal Piaz discussed the Founders Reserve on the video stream, I typed into the chat box:
“Once opened, how long will the Founders Reserve keep its own?”
Sandeman explained that the flavor profile will stay pretty consistent for the first month, then it may begin to change. Although the flavors may change, it is still okay to drink up until the flavors are no longer satisfying to your palate. This applies to all Portos.
Next up was the Sandeman 10 years old Tawny Porto NV. True to it’s name, the hue was definitely tawny. At first whiff, the aromas reminded me of the spiced nuts I make in the Fall. I roast almonds along with all sorts of spicy and sweet spices, and it was as if my favorite Fall recipe had been bottled. In the mouth it was super silky and creamy, and rich layers of flavors from front to back were of almonds, raisins and butterscotch. Through and through, the Tawny Porto was delicious.
Just as I was setting my glass down to take some notes, Sandeman suggested putting ice on either of the Portos. I was a little stunned, I had never thought about adding ice, so I did just that, and they were both excellent chilled.
Because the next question on my list was something I’ve wondered for years, I listened intently as Sandeman and Dal Piaz talked about stemware and glassware for Portos, and my question was answered. Any glass will do, stemless or one with a stem, as long as the glass being used has a big enough bowl to get the aromas to expand and fill the glass. I was right on with my choice of glassware – my stemless Riedel glasses, which were actually for Chardonnay, had a nice large bowl, perfect for getting those aromas to fill the glass.
After each of the four Portos were discussed and tasted, a bartender joined Sandeman and Dal Piaz to share two simple, summer cocktail recipes – one for the Founders Reserve and one for the Tawny Porto:
Sandeman’s Founders on the Rocks: 1 1/2 oz. Sandeman’s Founders Reserve. Directions: Pour over ice and garnish with a sprig of mint and an orange slice. Easy, refreshing and simply ambrosial.
Sandeman’s Tawny-tini: 2 oz. Sandeman 20 years Tawny Port (I used the 10 years), splash of Chivas Regal, orange twist for garnish, Directions: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 45 seconds. Strain and serve in a chilled martini glass. Squeeze oils from an orange twist and garnish with twist. Delicious.
As the bartender made the drinks, the chat box was going wild with participants wanting the bartender to give George Sandeman one of the drinks he was making, “Give George the drink!” “George needs that drink!” “Give the drink to George!” “Give George the drink!” Suddenly, over on Twitter, where participants were also involved in the Sandeman Porto tasting, a new hashtag had been created: #givegeorgethedrink. People from all over were waiting, and watching, to see if George would get the drink. After Dal Piaz noticed all the posts, the bartender handed George the drink. I actually clapped when I saw Sandeman with the drink in hand, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
To join in on the fun at the the next live virtual tasting on Snooth.com, click here. When an event is scheduled, click the RSVP button, call your friends, visit your local wine shop for the wines needed, and get ready for a whole load of fun.