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featured, Spirits, Fortified Wines & Spirits, Fortified Wines and Spirits
It all started innocently enough. Over the last few years, I have seen a marked increase in spirits made by winemakers. I thought it would be fun to taste them and write them all up. That was the genesis for this report. But then more and more samples arrived, and before I knew it, the article had morphed into a broad survey of spirits of all kinds. This article is clearly not comprehensive to any one category, but rather intended as a collection of spirits I think Vinous readers will enjoy.
featured, Fortified Wines and Spirits, France, Fortified Wines & Spirits
When Cognac is well-made, it’s among the finest spirits known to humanity. But Cognac is a secretive, confounding place. In this report, I unravel the mysteries of Cognac, covering more than 50 brands and offering reviews and ratings on more than 200 bottles.
featured, Fortified Wines and Spirits, Verticals & Retrospectives, Portugal, Fortified Wines & Spirits
“Port is for life, not just for Christmas.” True, though I am sure sales figures would confirm that more bottles of port, in all its multifarious forms - Vintage, Ruby, Tawny, Single Quinta, Colheita, White or Crusted - are ceremoniously passed to the left over the festive period than at any other time of the year. So it would be remiss of me not to offer Vinous readers an early Christmas present in the shape of a port-themed article.
featured, France: Normandy, France, Fortified Wines & Spirits, France: Other
Forget about grapes in Normandy. Here, the apple is king. Each fall, dozens of apple varieties, in field blends, are harvested, crushed and pressed into cider. In Calvados, much of that cider is distilled into the exquisite apple brandy. It has taken time, but slowly over the past two decades, a serious generation of Calvados producers have elevated the spirit into a conversation with the world’s other great brandies.
France: Armagnac, featured, France, Spirits, Fortified Wines & Spirits, France: Other
Armagnac is perhaps the most wine-like of spirits, and so it makes sense that, at Vinous, we begin our foray into the high-proof world of liquor by looking deeply into this classic brandy from Gascony. With a history that goes back more than 700 years, Armagnac offers authenticity, character and tradition, all of which are reflected in spirits that are imbued with notable complexity.
featured, Portugal, Fortified Wines & Spirits
One of the highlights of any year is the rare instance in which the major Port houses come together in unison around St. George’s Day to declare. Unlike Bordeaux, where you have barely recovered from the last primeur when the next one arrives, general Port declarations tend to arise approximately three times per decade, thereby avoiding fatigue. So, whilst the dazzling 2011 Vintage Ports remain fresh in my mind, the 2016s arrive at a time when I am ready for more.
Portugal, Fortified Wines & Spirits, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites
There is Vintage Port and then there is the 1948 Taylor Fladgate. It remains a monumental Port that towers over the 20th century. Nineteen forty-eight is perhaps one of the lesser-known declarations compared to 1945 and 1963, although nine houses declared that year. Michael Broadbent described that as an “error of judgment” given the quality of the vintage in retrospect. I have been fortunate to taste the 1948 Taylors on several occasions, encountering one or two perfect bottles along the way. “Christopher & Co” bottled my most recent encounter in 1950, British merchants bottling a lion’s share of production in those days.
Portugal, Fortified Wines & Spirits, Cellar Favorites
One area I am particularly looking forward to getting my palate round once again are the great fortified wines of the Douro Valley: Vintage Ports, Colheita, Tawny and who knows, even those Crusted Ports.
IWC, Fortified Wines & Spirits
The 2011 vintage ports, the first widely declared port vintage since 2007, arrived in the market with great fanfare
IWC, Fortified Wines & Spirits
Two thousand nine will be remembered in the Douro Valley as a year of low yields due mainly to the dry, dusty ripening season, the third consecutive dry year for the region