Kudos to Ryan of Catavino and his recent post on Portugese wine grape vocabulary. It inspired me to bust out an LBV port I had been saving so I could drink while I practiced my Portugese. It was the 1998 Late Bottled Vintage Quinta do Infantado , a traditional style LBV. Infantado uses all Class A vineyards for their ports, so I was hoping for some good stuff. One whiff stirred my senses, with an alluring nose of raisins, blackberries and some minty licorice aromas (and a healthy dose of alcohol at 19.5%). One sip and my mouth was filled with rich fruit, but then something funny happened. A surge of tannins moved in, and after a few seconds, my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. It was Sandpaper City as the tannins took over, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t taste. I just sat there and tried to find my saliva. Hello, saliva? No wonder why they refer to tannins as “grip”. After about five minutes I finally had my tongue back, only to take another sip and repeat the agony all over again. Once hairs started sprouting from my chest, I recorked the bottle and called it a day.
FYI, I tried it again a few days later and had the same result.
LBV’s are generally released when ready to drink, unlike a vintage port which requires years and years of aging. But I think this bad boy needs some more time. Perhaps the killer grip comes from the fact that Infantado ferments their grapes in lagares, which is a lengthy process that can draw out more tannins. Regardless, I'm eager to buy another bottle and try it again in a few years. Maybe at that time, chest hair on women will be “in”.
P.S. The more port you drink, the better your Portugese gets.