|Port has always been a favourite with me, writes Reva K. Singh. In the days when wine imports were virtually non existent in India, family and friends returned from trips abroad bearing a bottle of Scotch for the house and, for me, a bottle of sherry or port. However, wine lovers in India no longer have to rely on frequent travellers to keep them supplied with their favourite tipple.|
Earlier this month I met Damien Motte, Export Manager, responsible for Europe and Asia at Champagne Louis Roederer and Chateaux de Pez & Haut-Beauséjour at the Shangri-La hotel in Delhi.
In addition to Roederer’s famous Cristal Champagne, beloved of Czar Alexander II for whom a personal cuvée was created in 1876 and which is still one of the top premium Champagnes, Motte uncorked some superb port from the House of Adriano Ramos Pinto.
A young artist who believed that the appreciation of a good wine was primarily a cultural act rooted in European tradition, Adriano Ramos Pinto founded the Ramos Pinto House in Portugal in 1880 at the age of 21. He quickly became famous for his innovation and strategy associated with quality bottled wines and the special care he devoted to their packaging and promotion. Ramos Pinto entered the Brazilian market in the early 20th century and was responsible for half the wine exported to South America.
In 1990 the Ramos Pinto House became a part of the Roederer Group which shares a common history and philosophy, as an autonomous family group with a pioneering tradition devoted to quality.
Port, which is a fortified wine, can only be produced in the Duoro Delimited Region of Portugal, (an area whose first delimitation goes back to 1756) in the spectacular Upper Douro valley, a remote mountainous area of north-eastern Portugal.
Port is made by the addition of brandy during fermentation, resulting in a more or less sweet wine. At a critical stage in the winemaking (one normally determined under strict supervision by the purchaser of the wine), a clear, colourless grape spirit called aguardente is added to stop fermentation. The vast proportion of port is red, though white is also made.
Vintage ports are made from the grapes of a single year of exceptional quality and aged in wood for only two years. They are matured longer in the bottle to retain the fruity vibrancy of the vintage and extra sumptuousness. Late bottled vintage (LBV) ports may be drunk earlier because they are aged longer (four or five years) in wood, and mature more quickly.
Ideal as a digestif after dinner, which is how I like it in lieu of Cognac or brandy (and sometimes as a substitute for dessert), port also makes a pleasant aperitif, and can, in fact be drunk at any time, depending on the style.
Either way, wine lovers in India are now spoilt for choice! The Ramos Pinto ports are imported into India by Brindco Ltd and include a variety of Ruby, Tawny, White and LBV ports.