A colleague of mine recently came up with the great idea of comparing wines to classical music, which I felt was an intriguing idea worth pursuing. My first attempt to emulate his novel idea focused on Batch 88, Starboard, a port-style wine by Quady, a California-based sweet wine specialist.
At first taste, I wavered between matching it to a classical work such as a Brahms Symphony or with a jazz piece such as Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” Sweet and elegant, this wine is sophisticated and intellectual - just as fit for brainiacs as it is for aficionados of jazz.
I respect Quady’s decision not to call or label Batch 88 Starboard a port., a term, like champagne, reserved for the geographic region from whence it hails. In the case of Port, that would be the Duoro Valley of Portugal
I also relish the winemaker’s rationale for calling it Starboard, the nautical term for the right side of a ship as opposed to port, the left side. Clever, no?
As a nod to the port from Portugal, Quady, based in California’s San Juaquin Valley, uses the same grape varieties as its Portuguese counterparts - primarily Tinta Roriz with some Tinta Cao and Tinta Amarela added to the blend.
The winemaker describes Starboard Batch 88 as “an easy drinking port-style wine with ripe fruit and nutty elements that place it somewhere between a ruby and a tawny. It is warm, smooth and rich with a chocolate raisin character. Delightfully warming by itself, Batch 88 also pairs well with cheeses or with chocolates.”
I found it to be full of blackberry, chocolate and black currant flavors, sweetly balanced by tannins and just enough acid to round out the combination of savory elements. Not a wine to be served during a Steeler game day party, but one that would go nice on a wintery evening at home cozily tucked into your favorite cushioned chair listening to a Wynton Marsalis album.
The Quady Batch 88 Starboard comes in at 20% alcohol content and an average retail price of $25 for a 750 ml bottle.