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Mike Blaylock


EssensiaEssensia 2010: Quady’s Essensia is lightly fortified to 15% alcohol and aged in barrel for about 3 months.  This wines balanced acidity and orange aroma provides more of a fresh fruit feel rather then the traditional sticky dessert wine many are accustomed to.
This year they blended a small quantity of Muscat Cannelie and Malvasia Bianica to the Orange Muscat.  The Muscat Cannelie contributed to an overall enhanced citreous character and the Malvasia Bianica added a more intense floral aroma.

ElysiumElysium 2010: The most fantastic deep magenta color ever seen in Elysium is due in part to new vineyard practices of excessive leaf pulling and cane cutting on the north side of the vineyards.  This practice increases the sunlight underneath the canopy, also adding to more of a red fruit and litchi aroma then in the past years.

All of our dessert wines are best if served slightly chilled. An excellent way to achieve this is by storing the wine in the refrigerator, then removing the wine before dinner. By dessert time, the wine will be at the perfect temperature.


Tasting notes on Quady Ports by Andy Quady and Michael Blaylock, September 2001

In the beginning, all our winery made was port. In 1975, the idea was to make Vintage Port (the "holy grail" of port making) from old Zinfandel vines in Amador County. Today, although we make more of the other types, (blends of different years, and late bottled wood ports), we take the vintage styles very seriously.

Recently, winemaker Michael Blaylock and I tasted nearly every port we had made with the idea of providing guidance (quality and aging ability) to those who have our older ports in their cellars and to members of Club Quady who will be able to purchase some of them from our library.   Complete tasting notes follow. 

Handling Older Vintage Ports

A deposit or crust is normal in Vintage Port. Because of this, once the bottles have been disturbed, it's best to allow them to rest, stored horizontally with the labels upright, for at least a few weeks. When ready to open, right the bottles and allow to rest for another hour. Using a good quality cork screw, run the screw down through the entire cork (the corks tend to get brittle and difficult to remove whole), carefully pull the cork, decant, and serve. If the cork breaks apart on removal, simply remove the floating bits of cork from the decanter with a perforated spoon or tea strainer. Enjoy. After decanting, older ports lose bouquet.

1975 Zinfandel Port, Amador School Road Vineyard

The very first Quady Port, from old vine Zinfandels, these grapes were fully ripe but not shriveled. The wine was made at Lodi Winery, fermented in a 30,000 gallon open top concrete tank. There was no press available so only the free run juice was used. It was aged in Oakville in used brandy barrels and bottled at Rutherford Hill Winery.

The wine has a very pretty perfume which fades rapidly, a deep red color with slight amber around the edges. The taste is spicy with hints of licorice and cedar. Drinks very nicely. No additional aging needed.

In 1977 we built a new small winery behind our home in Madera California. The facility consisted of a 40 sq ft stucco building containing three stainless steel tanks for fermentation and storage and a fourth for storage of fortifying brandy. 50 gallon oak barrels were stacked up behind the tanks. We had a 1940s vintage Valley Foundry Crusher Stemmer and a small Vaslin press. The fermentations were cooled by spraying water cooled by a fan onto the outside of the stainless steel tanks whilst circulating the juice over the pumice with a pump.

1977 Zinfandel, Amador School Road Vineyard

Art label "Luncheon in the Studio" by Manet

This was the first wine made at Quady Winery in Madera and the grapes were fully ripe, about 26 brix. Due to equipment malfunction, they sat in the gondola for about a day before crushing. Fermentation took place in a closed stainless steel tank, and the wine was aged in used American Oak brandy barrels for about 2 years before bottling.

The wine is deeply colored, almost opaque. At first the nose is a little odd but after a few minutes opens up to a blackberry jam character. Surprisingly, this wine is still very tannic. We feel it needs another 10-20 years.

1977 Vintage Rancho Tierra Rejada

This was another 100 % Zinfandel port produced in 1977. It produced a softer style wine and was recommended for earlier drinking. Unfortunately we couldn't find a bottle to evaluate.   It may have all been drunk.

1978 Shenandoah School Road, lot 1

The grapes arrived at the winery partly shriveled.  We estimated them to have an effective 35 brix.   Otherwise, the wine was handled as the 1977 vintage except that lot 1 may have been lightly fined.

The wine shows a light Zinfandel spiciness, and is very perfumed. On the palate, it is a little dry with moderately high tannins and a peppery effect.

We think the wine is drying out and do not recommend it for further aging. It will be enjoyable now, especially with cheese.

1978 Shenandoah School Road, lot 2

Art label by Ardison Phillips

Lot 2 was selected from barrels having more character than lot 1, and bottled unfined.

The wine has a little darker color than lot 1 with a deeper aroma but  the same dry flavor, and it is rather harsh. We recommend it to be drunk now with cheese

1979 Shenandoah School Road

Art label "Luncheon in the Studio" by Manet

The grapes contained many shriveled raisins and the heat generated by the prolonged fermentation required us to develop the system of spraying water onto the tank to cool the fermentation. In addition this year we also experimented with a special lees brandy for fortification.

The wine is tawny in color with a brandy like character. The taste is both thin and woody. We didn't enjoy this wine.    Chalking it up to experience, this shows the dangers of getting the grapes too ripe, so they become raisiny and in experimenting with weird brandies which can impart an unpleasant hotness.   

1981 Clocksprings Vineyard Amador County Zinfandel

We didn't have great aging expectations for this port from a young vineyard and did not designate it as a "vintage port" but the wine after all these years is very pleasant. Tasted from a half bottle, the wine is tawny in color with an attractive creamy perfume. The taste is fruity with a complex coffee character and a slightly hot finish. Well balanced and very pleasant, we recommend it for current drinking.

We have 48 half bottles which we will offer to members of Club Quady.

1982 Shenandoah School Road

The grapes were quite ripe, about 28 brix. The wine has a mature amber red color and a . spirity nose. It is slightly dry on the palate and a little warm tasting. It is not recommended for further aging. For sale in our tasting room and to members of Club Quady.

1982 Frank's Vineyard, Amador County

This was the first vintage from Frank's Vineyard, planted for us by Frank Alviso of  Plymouth California.  It was made from a blend of Tinta Cao,  Tinta Amarela, and Bastardo harvested at an average 26 brix..  The wine is mature reddish and deeply colored with a well developed bottle bouquet and distinctly spicy  cedary aroma. There is a slight dryness but a pleasant fruit flavor dominates the palate. We think this wine is on a long plateau. It is for sale in our tasting room and to members of Club Quady

1983 Shenandoah School Road

We didn't designate this as "vintage port", instead using the term: "port of the vintage". The grapes were over 26 brix.

The light red amber wine has a complex but slightly woody aroma with some dryness to the mouth feel.  Additional aging is not recommended.

1983 Frank's Vineyard

This wine averaged over 24 brix in maturity but we didn't use the "vintage port" designation, feeling that the wine was too light, we called it "Port of the Vintage" and recommended it for near term consumption.

The wine is tawny with a candy like aroma and pumpkin like flavor.

1984, 1985, and 1986 Frank's Vineyard

The grapes for these vintages were picked too soon, and then we fermented them too long and added a poor quality fortifying spirit. Hopefully there aren't any bottles around. We pulled them all off the market and dumped the wine back into barrels, where it remains.

1984 Shenandoah School Road

At harvest the grapes were over 29 brix and showed a strong black pepper aroma. We planned from this point on to be making our vintage ports from Frank's vineyard so this wine was designated: "port of the vintage".

The color is light amber and the taste faded. It would be enjoyable well chilled, as a tawny. We will be offering this for sale in the tasting room and to members of Club Quady.

1985 Port of the Vintage, Tinta Roriz

We discovered that the important port variety known in Portugal as Tinta Roriz was identical to a California variety known as Valdepenas. These Madera county grapes were harvested at close to 26 brix.

Purplish with a brown cast, the aroma is soft, light, and a little "bready". The finish is short but leaves a raspberry flavor. Drink now.

1986 Shenandoah School Road

Production notes missing. Bottled as "Port of the Vintage"

Reddish amber color with a pleasant spicy aroma. Balanced attractive Zinfandel flavor. Very enjoyable to drink. No further aging recommended. We have 227 cases on hand. To be offered in our tasting room, to Club Quady, and to selected wholesalers.

1987 Shenandoah School Road

Twenty four brix in maturity at harvest on September 10. Bottled as "Port of the Vintage", this wine has a spirity dried out aroma and lacks sweetness. Not recommended.

1987 Vintage Starboard - Frank's Vineyard

Harvested at close to 25 brix, our first "Starboard", has come of age. It is ready to drink now or may even age a few years. To enjoy fully, decant an hour or two before serving so it may aerate, releasing aromas of cherries and blueberry with an amazing bottle bouquet. A beautiful translucent color with orange tones. Upon tasting there is tannin, alcohol, and sweetness. The 20% alcohol adds wonderful body and warmth. The 1987 Vintage Starboard has a sweetness which would pair perfectly with English Stilton.

1988 Port of the Vintage

Made from a blend of Zinfandel and Tinta Cao/Tinta Amarela from Frank's Vineyard. The fruit was only about 22 brix. We couldn't find a bottle to taste but when last tasted in 1990, the wine showed some green character and was a little stemmy.

1989 Vintage Starboard, Frank's Vineyard

The Tinta Cao was harvested on September 11 at around 22 brix and the Tinta Amarela on October 13 at close to 24 brix.

Mature dark color with a grapy flavor still developing into bottle bouquet. Medium soft tannins. This young vintage Starboard promises a long life. We recommend holding until at least 2010.

1989 Late Bottled Vintage (LBV)

Beginning with this wine we began a practice of bottling late (3 ½ years in wood) certain vintages or certain portions of the wine from Frank's and the Hargin vineyards in Amador County, the intention being to try to create an earlier drinking style from the Portuguese varieties.

When last tasted in 1993, this wine had a deep garnet violet color, a complex fruity flavor and an aftertaste with pleasant leathery notes.

1990 Vintage Starboard, Amador County

Harvested from three locations on September 22.

A blend of Tinta Cao harvested at 25 brix from the Hargin vineyard, Tinta Amarela harvested at 25 brix from Frank's vineyard, and Tinta Roriz harvested at 26 brix from Madera County, this wine is still very dark in color with a complex and rich nose. There are notes of cherries and bright fruit. The wine is just slightly hot. We guess it needs 10-15 years additional aging to show its potential.

1991 Late Bottled Vintage (LBV)

Harvested October 15 from Frank's vineyard at 24 brix. The crop was unusually large.

Bright red colored with a fruity balanced aroma. The flavor is very attractive with notes of quince and leather. The flavor finishes quickly. This wine should be drunk.

1992 Vintage Starboard lot A

Dark color with a deep rich meaty aroma and a full ripe fruit character. The finish is long and satisfying. Holds good promise. We recommend aging 7 to 10 years. Available at our tasting room and to members of Club Quady

1992 Vintage Starboard, Lot B

A smaller lot which was fortified with a spirit produced from red grapes and distilled at only about 140 proof instead of the customary 192 proof, from white grapes.

Lot B is dark red with a more fiery but still complex aroma. The finish has cherry notes. We suggest aging this wine an additional 10 years, at least. Available at our tasting room and to members of Club Quady.

1994 Vintage Starboard, Amador County

Harvested October 18 from Frank's vineyard. The Tinta Cao was close to 24 brix but the Tinta Amarela was under ripe, only about 21 brix.

The wine is dark red with a light roasted aroma. Rather light bodied and still slightly harsh. We expect that  7 years of additional bottle ageing will round out the tannins and create a pleasant complex and easy drinking wine.

1995 Late Bottled Vintage, Amador County

Made from a blend of grapes from Amador and Madera counties; the Amador fruit harvested October 16 at an average 22.5 brix from Hargin and Frank's Vineyards (Tinta Cao, Tinta Amarela, and Alvarelhao) to which was added 14% Tinta Roriz from Madera.  The port was late bottled in April 1999.

The dark red wine has an attractive coconut character in its aroma and a rich full bodied flavor.  Overall, the impression is very pleasant. If desired, the wine can be aged for an additional 7 years.

1996 Vintage Starboard, Amador County

Harvested October 7 at 24 brix, the blend consisted of about 97 % Tinta Cao from Amador County and 3 % Touriga Nacional from Madera County.

This very dark wine is developing an attractive perfume,  but the flavors are not yet integrated with the wine's tannic structure.  There is good promise for aging, perhaps 20 years. 




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