Port's baby brother?
Port is made in an unusual way: Grapes are crushed, then fermented to convert the natural fruit sugar into alcohol. But unlike "dry" table wines, Port is mixed with strong grape brandy ("fortified") before fermentation is complete. This arrests the process while the wine is still very sweet, and the potent brandy spirit makes the resulting beverage warm and strong, rising to 20 percent alcohol.
But what happens if the Douro grapes are made into traditional table wine, dry and unfortified? The result - at least in the case of Altano Douro, today's featured wine - is a fine and robust Portuguese red, with a full-bodied and earthy character.
Made from three of the traditional Port grapes - Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa and Barroca - Altano is produced by the Symington family, makers of Dow, Warre, Graham and other noteworthy Ports. At just under $10, it's a very good value indeed.
Altano 1999 Douro ($9.99)
FOOD MATCH: Its hearty fruit and acidity made it a natural with an offbeat ethnic dish, pljescavica, a lamb-and-beef meatball that bridges Northeastern Italy and Yugoslavia.
WEB LINKS: The producer's Website is http://www.symington.com/index.htm, with a fact sheet on the Altano at http://www.symington.com/altano.htm. The U.S. importer's Website is http://www.vineyardbrands.com/.
the Rhone and Provence
Lauriann Greene and Jean-Pierre Sollin, sommeliers-conseil who live in France, will join me to present this tour, which will feature a week of in-depth exploration of the wines of these two beautiful regions.
The tour is limited to 16 participants, so reservations will remain open only until these places are filled. For more information, click to the details at http://www.wineloverspage.com/tour.
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Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2001