I found an excellent syrah in Dallesport that I believe would make a fine base for a port. A barrel taste of the 2006 had rich but balanced fruits, no obvious dessert flavors, and a surprisingly long finish featuring solid acid and an evolution of flavors. This is above average stuff selling for about 1700 per ton or about $34 per case for the fruit (assuming 50 cases to the ton). I have enough of the other ingredient to make more than a barrel of port. If anyone wants “in” get back to me in a week +/- so I can gauge interest and get an order in. The process last time involved no barrel aging but an extended (week?) soak on the skins after adding the brandy. Following this procedure we would bottle in time for thanksgiving.
BTW this grower has some cabernet sauvignon left.


12 Comments so far

  1. Ziraud July 2nd, 2007 9:59 am

    Working back from the amount of brandy we can get, how many pounds of grapes would we need to buy?

  2. geowehn July 2nd, 2007 6:26 pm

    I did a back-of-the-envelope pearson square and got a maximum wine amount over eighty gallons. I have fifteen gallons of the other at half strenth so you can check my work. It all depends on how much people want to make. If we don’t bother with barrel aging the amount of grape we get can be anything from ten pounds to perhaps fifteen hundred (guess about yeild). According to Robinson et al in the wine encyclopedia less barrel time for port means more potential for bottle maturation.

  3. geowehn July 3rd, 2007 8:03 am

    News Flash! I just got word that time is of the essence. If you are in speak up now.

  4. JMCQ July 3rd, 2007 9:01 am

    Thanks for doing the legwork, George. I’m in. Can we find out from the grower when this typically ripens, relative to the fruit we get from Cowan? Also, I’d like to know more about barrel aging pros and cons.

  5. geowehn July 3rd, 2007 12:24 pm

    Barrel time. Longer barrel aging of port is used to make tawney, ready to drink port that will not last more than a few years in bottle. Ruby and vintage ports are aged up to three years in wood, or not at all. Some of these need thirty years in bottle to mature. The port from ’92 was seventeen years in the bottle and doing just fine. It never saw the inside of a barrel. I’m inclined to repeat that success but I am willing to be flexible. Maybe the most interesting, but inefficient, would be for individuals to age their own port in little casks so we can compare results later.

    Grape ripening time to follow.

  6. matthalperin July 3rd, 2007 4:51 pm

    I’d be in for 2 cases at least.

  7. geowehn July 3rd, 2007 7:08 pm

    “Other” cost. The other ingredient has cost me about $11.00 per gallon, at which price I make it available to the port effort. That’s $2.20 per case (estimate). Materials cost is thus 34.00 grape and 2.20 other for 36.20 per case (best guess, gasoline and misc. not included). I would be glad to discuss the cost structure of “other” in greater detail off line.

  8. JMCQ July 3rd, 2007 10:57 pm

    I’m fine with little or no barrel time. I wonder, given that it’s going to age in the bottle for years, during which time it will throw sediment, if we shouldn’t keep it in barrel or carboys long enough to do a couple of rackings in order to clean it up a bit before we bottle. Did the ’92 go into bottles more or less right after fermentation?

  9. geowehn July 4th, 2007 6:16 am

    The “Old ’92” had some extended skin time after the other went in and there must have been a post pressing rest to let the murk settle out. I’ll ask Kevin (McCarver, Edgefield) if he has notes on that year.

  10. Ziraud July 4th, 2007 9:39 am

    There’s a bit on the Symington site (they make Graham’s) which says that

    The young wines then remain in the Douro until they ‘fall bright’, which will normally occur from about March onwards in the year following the vintage.

    “Falling bright” sure sounds like settling (and in any case, it’ll be a fine term to toss about), but the question is whether they rack before transporting. That would sure make sense (otherwise, why let settle if you’re going to shake them up again), and if so, they’re talking about 6 or so months settling before a first rack.

    They also add this:

    Wines that will be destined for great Vintage Port will be aged in wooden cask for between 18 months and two years before being bottled and either sold ‘en primeur’ or aged in the lodges until ready for drinking. The old tawnies remain in cask for many more years in order to help them gain their nutty character while LBV’s and the younger ruby and tawny will be kept for a shorter period in wood before being bottled and shipped all over the world.

    For a quick thumbnail on the differences between all the various port styles, check this out.

  11. geowehn July 5th, 2007 3:47 pm

    Terrific input gentelmen. I’m moving ahead with a barrel of port, or possibly a little more. I know we haven’t worked out exact shares but there is enough interest that the worst that will happen is I get stuck with a few cases of the stuff. I can deal. Francois and Steve are in, as are Matt H., Whit and JMCQ. Matt G. I assume you want a taste of this also. Next step is me working out just how many gallons of this folly we will get. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.

  12. Ziraud July 5th, 2007 10:06 pm

    A taste, paisan, some juice. We pick, we crush, bada bing, bada boom. Capisca? Fuggadaboudit.

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