A vintage of a different kind

Taylor Fladgate 2000 Late Bottled VintageSolera Cream Montilla Moriles
Wine blogs, even beer blogs, have found their place on the Internet. Where, I ask, are the port posts and sherry sites?

As a real wine fanatic, it can be hard to devote some attention to the grapes that are vinified into a higher alcoholic concoction. The grapes used to make fortified wine are usually riper and make the resulting cuvée sweeter and headier, often due to the addition of brandy or some other spirit. It's not an everyday uncorking, at least not for me.

The two fortified wines pictured above have routinely found a way into my glass over the course of the last year. They are Taylor Fladgate 2000 Late Bottled Vintage and the non-vintage Solera Cream Montilla Moriles, a sherry, respectively. The port is, of course, Portuguese, while the sherry, also known as Montilla Moriles, is from Spain.

I find it amusing that the reason I embrace the Fladgate port so much is because it reminds me of my favourite red wines -- rich and velvety with a palpable tannic astringency. At dessert, this is not a cloying overly sweet drink. I think of it more as a touchy-feely espresso to cap off a meal. A hint of bitterness nestled in a smooth and luxuriant package. 20%.

If the Fladgate appeals to me because of its kinship with wine, the Alvear turns me on for exactly the opposite reason. This stuff is like liquified dessert. Crème brulée in a bottle. If you've ever had Canasta, it is a bit like that but more refined. It's got eau-de-vie in it! Ultimately the cream is superbly balanced making this a real treat to savour. 18%.

Tomorrow's news today! French tennis stylist Amélie Mauresmo reduces Belgian mighty mouse to a FORTIFIED WHINE...

In Saturday's women's final at the Australian Open, Mauresmo outclassed and outpaced the talented but ultimately feeble Justine Henin-Hardenne, giving up only 1 game in 52 minutes. Pummelled by fantastic shotmaking and a wicked and unyeilding top spin, Henin-Hardenne redefined the Belgian waffle by retiring -- an unprecendented move during a Grand Slam final in the modern era -- for apparently unknown reasons. It seems she was a tad out of breath. Or perhaps knowing that she could not win the title was enough to make her sufficiently sick and throw in the towel only four games shy of match completion. At least when Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters faced Mauresmo in the semis, she had the decency to roll an ankle for the crowd.

So concludes this wineblog's coverage of the start of the 2006 tennis season. Since Nicolas Kiefer lost his semifinal match, I join the rest of the free world and move to football this weekend. Amélie, you deserved to win this title and your first Grand Slam trophy. Congrats, and enjoy that 1937 Château d'Yquem!

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