Drinking

Friday Tastings: Noval Black Port

Fat Tuesday is right around the corner, and while Mardi Gras revelers have their sights on whatever they can get their hands on, we’re reaching past the hurricane pitchers for a bottle of Noval Black, a brand new, entry-level port from Quinta Do Noval. Port, Portugal’s most recognizable alcoholic export, is made with wine fortified from neutral grape spirits (to arrest fermentation and preserve sugar) and usually cellared in barrels. Quinta Do Noval—a name you might recognize from a dessert menu or two—is a showcase producer that’s been making excellent vintages in the steep Duoro Valley (Port’s growing region) since 1715.  Officially, this is a Ruby Reserve, a blend of young wines that have been barrel-aged for just three years. Unofficially, it enjoys a bump in quality from those premium Quinta Do Noval vineyards. Like most Ruby Ports, Noval Black is not overly complex, but it is easy to like and bursting with bright, juicy berry flavors and a knife-edge of peppermint that cuts the sweetness. Ruby Ports are typically served with rich desserts, but we’ve always preferred to sip them with a hunk of hard, aged cheese. At $22, Noval Black is a couple bucks more than most in its class, but still cheap enough that we’ll use it for vermouth in our next Manhattan, just to see what happens.

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