I spent the past week eating and drinking my way through Porto and the Douro in northern Portugal. There were so many wonderful wines, from still white and red Douro wines to the famous and historical Ports, both ruby and tawny. But at each and every tasting, the one wine that stole my heart was the Colheita and that is why it is the Please the Palate Pick of the week.
Port can be ruby or tawny. Ruby Ports, whether young, reserve, LBV or vintage, tend to be more fruit driven as they do not age in oak. A tawny port is a port that is aged in wood so that oxygen flows through resulting in the loss of color and the development of different flavors. Tawny Port is available in 10 Year, 20 Year, 30 Year, 40 Year and Colheita, an aged Tawny Port made with grapes from a single vintage.
"Colheita" means "harvest" in Portuguese. Colheitas are required by law to mature in wooden casks for at least seven years, although it can be much longer. The wine is bottled when the producer feels it is ready to drink.
As you get ready to warm up the barbeque and chill down the beer for your 4th of July parties, think about opening a bottle of Madeira to enjoy with your friends.
Why Madeira? Well, did you know that Madeira was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, the founding fathers of the United States? In fact, when they signed the Declaration of Independence, they toasted with Madeira.
What is Madeira? Madeira is the wine named for an island, and an island named for a wine. Understanding Madeira is not an easy feat. The winemaking process, grape varietals and wine styles are not like other wines that you are familiar with.