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Get Fortified for Winter: Port & Pommeau

It’s winter, and baby it’s cold outside! One way to combat the chill is to savor a wide selection of Finger Lakes Port-styled wines and apple pommeau.
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Port-styled wines and apple pommeau to warm you

Written by Ray Pompilio, photos by Chelsea Fausel

It’s winter, and baby it’s cold outside! One way to combat the chill is to savor a wide selection of Finger Lakes Port-styled wines and apple pommeau. Port is fortified by adding neutral grape spirit to wine during its fermentation, and pommeau is made by combining fresh or partially fermented apple cider with apple brandy, known as eau de vie.

Port and Pommeau originated in Portugal, and France, respectively. We in the Finger Lakes have many local versions to choose from. These beverages have alcohol levels of 16-20% and offer a range of sweet and robust flavors with a warming finish.

The Port-styled wines are made with red vinifera, hybrid or native grapes, and most are made in a fresh, ruby style. At least one winery, Fox Run Vineyards, makes a tawny “port” that is aged in wood for as long as seven years in a special, warm part of the cellar.

If cider is your choice, then try pommeau, which is being produced by an increasing number of local producers. Their sweetness varies, and they are aged in oak, offering a subtle and warm alternative.

Enjoy either beverage with some local cheese or by itself—forget winter, you’ll feel the warmth…

Finger Lakes Port-style wines to try

Fox Run Vineyards Ruby Port (375ml) $20.00
Fox Run Vineyards Tawny Port (375ml) $50.00 (winery only)
Glenora Port (750ml) $18.99
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Port (500ml) $17.00
Hunt Country Ruby Port (500ml) $16.99
Knapp Ruby Port (375ml) $15.99
Lakewood Vineyards 2018 Port (750ml) $18.00
Leidenfrost Vineyards 2017 Cabaret (500ml) $22.00
Miles Wine Cellars Treasure (750ml) $21.00
Ports of New York Meleau Red (500ml) $48.00
Seneca Shore Amulet Native Port (750ml) $13.99
Seneca Shore Amulet Reserve Port (750ml) $15.99
Swedish Hill Cynthia Marie Port (750ml) $23.99

Finger Lakes Pommeau to try

Black Diamond Cider Pommeau (500ml) $30.00
Eve’s Cidery Pommeau (500ml) $32.00
Glenhaven Farm Pommeau (375ml) $27.99 (Ithaca Farmers Market)
Kite & String 2017 Pommeau (375ml) $22.00
South Hill Cider 2017 Pommeau (375ml) $28.00

Prices listed are those at the winery or cidery.

Ray Pompilio began his wine career in 1983, with a harvest crush on Seneca Lake. Currently he is a member of the wine team at Northside Wines & Spirits in Ithaca and a regular contributing writer to wine trade magazines in California.

Chelsea Fausel is a lifestyle and wedding photographer in the Finger Lakes with a studio in downtown Ithaca. She spends her spare time with her wife and four children hiking, traveling and drinking lots of coffee. Follow her work on Instagram: @fauselimagery

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