USA: U.S. Fortified Wines
What About US Fortified Wines?
Fortified wines, those inevitable after dinner elixirs, have been a part of the American wine industry since its inception. Indeed, the early American taste for fortified wines was well documented, as the signing of the declaration of independence was toasted with a round of Madeira, and it, along with port and sherry was the preferred drink of the Eastern aristocracy well into our own century. That the native industry should strive to compete for this market was only natural.
As in much of the wine producing New World, vintners took a run at sherry (and do to this day), but the results on the whole pale, often quite literally, to the Spanish original. Port, however, has been an altogether more satisfying experience. While the climate and soil of Jerez has not been duplicated elsewhere, the broiling heat and unique wine making practices of the Douro have proven much easier to replicate, perhaps nowhere more so than in Californias Amador County and San Joaquin Valley.
Beyond California, port style wines are being made in much of the country. As might be expected a certain measure of heat helps, and the most successful examples have come from warm states such as Missouri. As the saying goes, a little residual sugar can cover up a multitude of sins, but the Missouri ports from producers such as Stone Hill and Mount Pleasant truly stand on their own merits, and have proven as consistently competent as many California versions.
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