There is nothing wrong with loving a rare wine and Alberta is definitely one of the best places to be if you want these sorts of things. Recently, there have been a handful of pre-phylloxera ports cruising onto our shelves worthy of even the best port aficionados. Phylloxera for those that didn’t know, was a vine-slaying (or “sleighing” if you want to get into the spirit of the season) louse that decimated grape vines across Europe in the late 1800’s and threatened to ruin fine wine forever. A solution was found in the use of phylloxera resistant American rootstocks that could have European vines grafted onto them and quality wine was preserved for the future.
There was some debate though that the wines produced from these grafted vines was inferior to the wines produced before, but it was very difficult to compare since non-grafted vines were in essence all dead, and if you wanted to taste a pre-phylloxera wine today, you’d either need a time machine or exceptionally deep pockets. Since most of these wines are long gone.
Port wine, as in its nature is an exceptionally long lived wine, and from time to time, a barrel or two might surface in dark corner of the cellar that might be used to blend into older tawny ports. From time to time, sometimes these barrels are “too good” to blend and might be released as a stand-alone bottle fit for a king.
Quinta do Vallado Adelaide Tributa is one such port.
Only 5 bottles of this wine produced in 1866, will make it to Alberta out of the total production of 1300 bottles available around the world. (Seeing as probably a few hundred will go to Hong Kong-we didn’t do too badly) and the retail price is a whopping $5000.00 give or take a few dollars.
So, does the taste match the hype I’ve heard? First off, I was sent a tiny 50ml bottle (along with a smaller version of the packaging) so don’t get too excited about what gets dropped off at my house. It’s a walnut/mahogany colour in the glass with slightly greenish notes about the rim-much like old madeira. On the nose, fruits are dried and yes, a little nutty-but that does come with age. Lots of subtlety and even a little understated keeps things very interested. Loving the taste, it’s got a bit of heat and spice with fig and walnut characters and a long silky finish. Each sip is a little different in such a good way. I’m tempted to just drink it solo (sharing be damned as well) but a little blue cheese would set this right off.
If you are really interested in something special for the wine lover in your life, of the 5 bottles making it to Alberta, Coop Wines and Spirits seems to have 4 of them spread across their Shawnessy, Crowfoot, and their West Spring locations. No word on the 5th bottle; but it isn’t at my house (hint hint).