Port is a fortified dessert wine made by the addition of brandy into a fermenting wine. The brandy raises the alcohol level and kills the yeasts responsible for converting sugars to alcohol, thereby preserving the natural grape sugars.
At Unionville we start with the Chambourcin grape. Chambourcin has these really great cherry and raspberry notes, so the end product tastes something like chocolate-covered berries. It’s pretty wonderful.
Anyway, we start with Chambourcin. In some years, we bleed off free-run juice, which is rather light and delicate. We can put that into a blush or a light red blend. Then, we start fermenting the concentrated red that’s left. Once we get to a sugar level we like we add brandy to stop the fermentation.
In 2012, we released a 2002 vintage port, which was only made from grapes from that single year and was a tawny port. In 2007, we also released a 2006 vintage port, which was a ruby port. (Shortcut: Tawny ports are older, and ruby ports are younger. Tawny ports give you more caramel, cocoa and butterscotch tones, whereas ruby ports are more fruit-forward, and, in our case, give more cherry and berry flavors.) We only make vintage ports in really wonderful years, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another great vintage! Was 2013 one of those years?For our vat series, we blend the current vintage with those from previous years. Our Vat 18 won best dessert wine in the state in 2013. We are now on Vat 19, which is a blend of nine vintages going back to 2001. By blending different vintages we can include the cocoa and caramel along with the fruit. With flavors of chocolate-covered cherry, cocoa powder and oak spice flavors, our port is sure to delight!