Port For The X Gen, or Y Gen, or Whatever

novalThe wine rep  who brought Noval Black to me introduced it by saying, “This is Port for younger wine drinkers.” I thought to myself, “Just how young are we talking?” With that “Must Be 21″ thing, they can’t be all that young. He must be talking about 20-somethings or 30-somethings: and is there a reason they can’t drink the Port that’s good enough for the rest of us? And why would this venerable Port house, that’s been making tawnies and vintage character port since 1715, see the need to launch a product for youngsters now?

I couldn’t wait to crack this bottle and answer  these questions. We set it up properly, serving it after a good  dinner with some killer fudge brownies and fresh raspberries. When the Noval Black hit the table, the first thing we noticed was the sleek, racy look of the bottle. It doesn’t look like your father’s Port: there are no clumsy stenciled letters or squatty, frumpy bottle. And there’s almost no punt underneath the bottle — you know, that deep indentation in the bottom that’s designed to hold sediment as the Port ages and sediment falls out. Hmmmm…

When we popped the (traditional) cork and  poured a glass, we noted that the color was typical of a ruby port:  nice deep garnet. The nose gave a good rush of berry fruit, and the first sip rewarded us with nice, deep, sweet black cherry flavors.The finish had the bite you want from a 19.5% alcohol wine, but didn’t linger long in the mouth. It was pleasant, and it reminded me of lots of other ruby or vintage-character ports that I’ve tasted.

So why all the fuss? I went to the website designed just for this product and found a lot of flashy graphics but not a lot of information. (They did, however, suggest several bar drinks that can be made from their port: perfect for a city-chic martini bar!) Here’s what I got from it: Noval Black is designed to taste “fresh and smooth”, and to be “easily accessible,” which means that young people don’t need to hassle with aging or decanting — just pop the cork, pour and enjoy. Noval Black is made from at least some of the red grapes used for a traditional Port blend, and is aged for two years in wood before bottling. Again, that’s about the same as a typical ruby.

I’ve decided that what sets Noval Black apart from other ports on the market is — marketing! Quinta do Noval is now owned by a company with many wine interests, and their marketing people must have seen that at least a significant part of the growth in wine consumption will come from the Y Generation (apparently the X Gen’ers are already too old to count as youngsters). It’s actually a pretty good idea to take Port out of the gentleman’s clubs and smoke-filled libraries where many people imagine it. If Quinta do Noval can get people in their 20′s to broaden their palates, and their wine buying practices, then I’m all for it.

Here’s to ya!

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