Katy Rutland
November 19, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Ports Aren't Just for Ships Anymore

Despite the warm spell predicted for next week, the weather outside is frightful. From the Tasting Room, the trees are frosty, the wind is biting, and don’t get us started on the freezing rain forecasted for tomorrow. For those of you with the luxury of not working today, stay inside, stay warm, and pour yourself a glass of Forte.


A hearty and rich wine, the Forte is perfect for a cold day. The author calls it her “fireside book wine,” which is how she spends snowy days in the middle of January.


What this doesn’t explain is what Forte is.


The Forte, first released as the 2005 Reserve Forte and just released last weekend as 2006 Signature Series Cabernet Forte, is a port-style wine. Ports come in three flavors: ruby, tawny, and vintage. The first two are known for being lighter, sweeter, and very alcoholic, which are hallmarks of ports.


What sets a vintage port apart is that it is designed for decades of aging. No joke. Next time you’re in a specialty liquor or wine shop, go find the cabinet with the lock on it. Right next to the Louis XIV cognac and 40 year scotch may be a few 500ml bottles with vintage dates in the 1800s or 1920s. These are vintage-style ports.


Both the 2005 and 2006 Fortes are made in this style, so get a couple extra bottles to save for a couple decades while you savor the rich, fruity qualities of a young Forte.


It has to be said, though. The 2006 Signature Series Forte Cabernet is not for the faint of heart. Fortified with neutral grape spirits (think wine moonshine) rather than brandy (the traditional method), this port-style is a sweet, red dessert wine with a kick. The burn of the spirit lingers but without the cloying honey sweetness of brandy, so only the flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon shines through in all its black fruit glory.


As with all of our specialty wines, Winemaker Keith Pilgrim gave this one a name with meaning. “Forte” is Portuguese for “big,” “hearty,” “heavy,” and “powerful.” Since Portugal is the only country to be able to call fortified wines “port,” we decided to pay homage to the home of ports.


If you’ve never tried a fortified wine, brave the cold and come warm up in the Tasting Room with a taste of Forte and a comfy seat next to the fire. Dark chocolate is also highly recommended. Just don’t be surprised if the Wine Educators look jealous. We love wine and chocolate.


Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca


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