Thursday, January 23, 2014

A not-port

Adriano, 2005, from the port maker Ramos Pinto, in Portugal's Douro Valley; it brings back memories of a similar wine called Altano. Made of the four grapes that make port: touriga francesca, tinta roriz, tinta barroca, and touriga nacional.

Image from Maisons Marques & Domaines (the importer)

My first impressions were of meatiness, and faintly, of cinnamon; which in turn brings back memories of customers and sundry nice people shaking their heads and marveling that they can't taste "all the things you're supposed to taste" in wine. It's okay, I'm not necessarily tasting meat and cinnamon even the next night, myself. Now I'm sensing more the "freshness" and "lively tannins" that Ramos Pinto's website tells me I'll sense. Perhaps now is a good time not only to remember the best wine writers' admissions that suggestibility plays a huge role even in their professional perceptions, but also to remember author Lawrence Osborne's contention that modern wine tasting's rigid, fruit-and-flowers metaphors are only about as old as the 1970s, and reflect the newly enophilic, comfortable middle classes' familiarity with the supermarket, as opposed to the wine buying upper classes' old familiarity with things -- and old wine descriptors -- like "breeding" or "commonness."

But the wine. It's juicy, shrinks the mouth first with its tannins and then fills it up again with the reaction to its acidity. (Why is saliva such an ugly word? from the Latin salix, derived from willow; it seems there is a glucoside extracted from the barks of willows and poplars, and for heaven's sake why shouldn't there be? -- and it's got something to do with the helpful digestive juices in our mouths.)

Suggested retail, $13. For the wine, not your juices.

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