2008 Horton Port

Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville, Virginia has an impressive portfolio of varietals. While they specialize in Rhone varietals like Viognier, the Horton Vintage Port really got my attention. The 2008 Vintage Port is a wonderful dessert wine. Horton was the first winery in Virginia to make a Port after prohibition – beginning with the 1995 vintage. It’s also a great value at $20 for a standard 750ml bottle.

Tasting Notes:

The color is vibrant ruby with a slight garnet rim. This is a bold, rich, full bodied, sweet dessert wine with aromas of cassis, cherry and plum. The palate echoes the aromas and adds a nice touch of raisin, fig, toffee, burnt caramel and sweet spice.

Perfect Pairings: 

The Horton Port is wonderful on its own or paired with a dessert like pecan pie. I also love this wine with a savory option like a cheese plate featuring stilton and figs.

Serve this wine at 60 degrees to achieve an optimal drinking experience.


2008 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz

The Penfolds name is synonymous with winemaking in Australia. This year, Penfolds celebrates 170 years as a pioneer in the industry.  Penfolds wines run the spectrum from affordable every day wine all the way to the iconic Penfolds Grange. This wine exemplifies the true terroir of South Australia.  Grange generally retails for roughly $800 upon release and the value only goes up from there.

Another label in the “luxury” collection from Penfolds includes the St. Henri Shiraz also know as Penfolds “other” Shiraz.

I recently opened a bottle of the 2008 and was blown away by the complexity and true aging potential of this wine.  The St. Henri Shiraz retails for a fraction of the Grange at $99, but exemplifies all that is truly wonderful about Australian wine. While most Shiraz coming out of Australia tends to rely on new oak to develop tannins, structure and flavor, the St. Henri is aged in neutral oak vats.

The wine is beautiful deep ruby to purple in color. On the nose, aromas of sweet blueberry pie, baked plum and black cherry abound. There are also notes of dusty earth, leather, cedar chest, applewood smoked bacon, anise, mint, a  hint of black pepper, asian five spice and mocha.

The palate bursts with flavors of blueberry and plum followed by spice box and chocolate covered espresso beans. While this wine was decanted 2 hours before drinking, the tannins were still very chewy and rugged.  The finish was long and lingering. This is a truly complex wine that will only improve with long term cellaring. In fact, I would recommend holding this bottler for at least another 3 years before opening. If you are impatient, I would recommend decanting at least 6 hours before your meal and make sure to pair it with something fatty like a ribeye. Keep in mind, patience is often rewarded when it comes to wine.

This wine can age every bit as long as Grange.  According to Penfolds the peak dates are 2012-2038. A small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is added to improve structure. The breakdown for this vintage is is 91% Shiraz, 9% Cabernet.

The 2008 St. Henri was rated 95 points by Wine Spectator.