At a press event last week in New York City, the Fladgate Partnership announced a first for Portugal: organic port.
David Fonseca Guimaraens told the assembled group that the vineyard had been farmed organically since 1992. Since port is made by fortifying fermenting wine with the addition of a distilled spirit (brandy), the breakthrough for this new port was finding an organic distilled spirit. This paves the way for organic labeling in Europe as certified by Socert.
Guimaraens said that the port would not be labeled as organic in the United States but instead “made with organically grown grapes.” Even though sulfites naturally occur in wine, adding sulfites, as Fonseca does, prevents the producer from calling it “organic” in America.
The port, with a ruby hue, has aromas of dark cherries and blackberries with a hint of the 20 percent alcohol. The mouth feel is pleasantly balanced between sweet and acid as well as being luscious–thanks to the advances in automated crushing, no doubt, since it is piston fermented–and the finish long and sweet. It’s the equivalent of a premium ruby port, Guimaraens said.
But does it taste any different? Or is it any better for you? Guimaraens said that the organic distillate that was added had more fruity notes than the non-organic one but that may also have to do with a different source the of raw materials. As far as the health effects, Guimaraens said that the residues of any fertilizer or pesticide are non-existent. But it makes a difference for labor, since he said that organic viticulture has a “much greater benefit to vineyard workers.”
Available on the US market in June, the Terra Bella port will retail for $22. I’ll be looking to pick some up. (search for retailers)