Evenus Zinfandel Port

Maker: Candlewood Cellars, Graton, California, USAwpid-2015-05-20-20.31.44.jpg.jpeg

Place of origin: Paso Robles AVA, California, USA

Vintage: 2003

Style: Fortified dessert wine.

ABV: 18.1%

Purchased for $10/375 ml (Trader Joe’s)

Appearance: Dark purple with a slight brownish tinge.

Nose: Raisins, black currant jelly, plum, blueberry.

Palate: Sweet and fruity. Blueberry jam, black cherry, bit of white pepper. Fades into a slight burn.

Finish: Raisiny and warming.

Mixed: Yes, sometimes I mix my port, even when it’s not really Port. Made for a pretty bad Princeton cocktail, but that might have been down to the cheap gin I used. Did well with a squirt of lemon juice.

Parting words: I purchased this bottle many years ago and planned to open it in 2018, but I jumped the gun a bit, as you can see. I’m glad I did.

True Port, of course, has to come from Portugul, but this California version does a good job of being in the style but retaining its varietal characteristics. It has the toasty heat of a California Zin but has enough elegance and sweetness to pair well with dark chocolate or as a dessert in itself. The price is hard to beat too. Evenus 2003 Zin Port is recommended.

Vanilla Java Porter

Maker: Atwater, Detroit, Michigan, USAVJ Porter

Style: Porter with coffee and vanilla extracts added.

ABV: 6%

Appearance: Very dark brown, like coffee. Moderate head.

Nose: Vanilla syrup, coffee.

Palate: Medium bodied, semi-sweet and effervescent. Gas station vanilla “cappuccino”, a little bitterness and slightly sour.

Finish: Coffee and hint of fruit. Lingers for a while.

Parting words: This beer delivers on its promise. I taste vanilla, I taste coffee, I taste porter. I expected something a bit more intense than this, but I can’t complain that it tastes exactly how it is described on the label. It could have used more bitterness and a fuller mouth feel but it’s fine as a change of pace. Vanilla Java Porter doesn’t pair very well with food. It’s best as an after meal dessert pour. Vanilla Java Porter is mildly recommended.

Founder’s Porter

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

ABV: 6.5%

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown, nearly black, with a frothy brown head, like espresso crema.

Nose: Rich and slightly boozy. Bitter dark chocolate, coffee liqueur (you know the one), espresso.

On the palate: Full-bodied. Slightly bitter, but not overly bitter. Dry. French roast coffee, dark toast.

Finish: Long and bitter. Like gargling with coffee. Long-lingering.

Parting words: Founder’s is a textbook porter. It’s all roasted coffee deliciousness. Nothing not to like. That said, it could use a little more sweetness for balance. Good but one-dimensional.  Still, Founder’s Porter is recommended.

Shipwreck Porter

Maker: Arcadia Ales

Style: Barrel-Aged Porter

ABV: 12%

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with beige head.

Nose: Chocolate, mole, slightly boozy.

On the palate: Sweet caramel chocolates, brownies, creamy, with a bit of spice and bitterness.

Finish: boozy and sweet.

Parting words: Shipwreck is not particularly complex, but it is very good. It’s like a dark chocolate caramel brownie in a bottle. The bourbon barrel aging is what brings the caramel to the table, and it complements the stout very well without giving it weird flavors. The same cannot be said for many barrel-aged beers. It’s a little over-priced, but still very much worth a recommendation.