by Fred McMillin
for February 10, 1997

A Short Port Report

Prologue: England was thirsty in the 1670's. Hostilities with France cut off London's chief wine source. Merchants were scrambling for other supplies.

The Rest of The Story: The two young Englishmen were not having much luck. Their father had sent them to Portugal to find wine worthy of importing, but they had come up empty. So they took a holiday excursion up the majestic Douro River and visited a monestary at Lamego. The abbot poured a wine that abruptly ended their search. Some brandy was added to brace it for the trip across the water. Port was born. The year was 1678.

Exactly 30l years later, the Mondavi family decided to make their own port in California dessert-wine country at Woodbridge. Just like those young Englishmen, research manager Craig Rous also had his port problems.. getting strains of the five authentic Portuguese varietals that liked their Central Valley surroundings, etc.

But, 13 years later the 4 1/2-acre vineyard came through with rich, flavor-laden grapes and Craig declared his first estate-grown vintage. It is a dilly, suprisingly deep and complex. My Scott's-on-Lombard panel voted it Best of Tasting. I think you will, too, if offered with Stilton cheese and chocolate truffles.

1992 Porto Cinco, Lot 592, Appellation—Lodi, CA
Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
Woodbridge, CA
Price: About $5 a glass in select restaurants

Rating: Excellent


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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