First off, I need to know what prompted you to create your own Port wine label. Looking at the names on any Port wine shelf at your local retailer, you see years and years of history embedded in the names. What did you think that you could add to the mix? What have you enjoyed about having your own label? What haven’t you liked?
The reason that Port was logical to have with our own name on it was the fact that, in America, I was known at the time as the only authority on Port in this country [Darell Corti was as much an authority but he was not so well known], secondly, English names make total sense for Port because most of the top Port houses have British names. So, Broadbent was already known here for Port, turning it into a brand was a no-brainer. I wanted to create my own brand of Port because, having worked for a less than generous family for ten years, I wanted something of my own and I wanted to compete. There are three major laws preventing new Port producers from becoming established, so I had to work around these by having someone else (Dirk Niepoort) make the wine for me. The three laws are: 1] you can’t plant a new vineyard without ripping out an old one 2] before you can sell any Port, you must have three years of back up stock 3] only a limited amount of Port can be made each year, so if a new Port house starts, they have to persuade another Port house to relinquish some of their allowance.
Tell me a bit about your Broadbent Port? Where it is made, who makes it, and what are the standards that you hold to? What do you hope to do in the future with Broadbent port?
It is made as a custom blend by Dirk Niepoort, uniquely for me, the blends under my guidance. We have had the following Vintages 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2003. We strive to make very high quality Vintage Port. We also have a wine called Broadbent Auction Reserve, which we feel to be the highest quality Reserve wine on the market. We will introduce an LBV, we made one for one customer this year, but we’ll make one for the broad market next year, probably. Eventually, we’ll have an aged tawny.
I think for many people Madeira is a name that rings’ a bell in grandparents minds, and show’s up as an ingredient in recipes from time to time. For me, it was something that I needed to research for myself. I had trouble finding anyone with enough knowledge to share with me on the subject. I realize Madeira is a big part of American history, but why do you think it has almost become a “lost” wine in America?
It became a lost wine because most of Madeira was sold in the U.S. until Prohibition. After the repeal of Prohibition and the improvements made to shipping during WWII, the ships stopped going to Madeira for provisions. So, without the ship traffic to the U.S., the U.S. market never recovered. Not until we re-launched Madeira in San Francisco back in about 1987. Like most wine trends, it started in San Francisco, then spread to NY and then the rest of the country.
You mention how it pairs well with everything. That is quite the bold statement, what is your personal favorite pairing?
Well, along with the fact that you have dry and sweet Madeiras, and everything in between, you have the high acidity, so you can put it with balsamic vinegar or fruit, and you have the sweet Madeiras that have a dry finish, so you can put it with desserts without any competition between the sweetness of the wine and that of the food. Favorite? not really.
I’ve been told that Madeira is the one wine that can last forever! Is that true, and how can it be?
Yes, it is virtually indestructible. It is the one wine that I will tell a wine sales rep to carry in the boot of his car all year long, heat or cold, and not worry about it spoiling. It can be left open for decades and not go off [so long as something is preventing dust getting in]. The wine is already madeirized, so it won’t madeirize. It is already oxidized. You have done the worst thing that can be done to a wine, heat it, yet that is what creates Madeira. So you can’t do anything worse to it.
What are the styles that you make? What do you personally find most exciting about Madeira? Could you recommend a website or book for people to learn more about Madeira?
We make a Rainwater, a 3 year Reserve, a 5 year Reserve, a 10 year Malmsey, a 1995 and 1996 Coheita, Vintages 1933 Malvazia, 1934 Verdelho, 1954 Verdelho, 1964 Bual, 1978 Terrantez, 1978 Bual and a more than fifty year old Terrantez. Obviously, we bought the older wines and bottled them with our own label. I find it exciting because it is such a refreshing fortified wine and goes with anything. Websites? Try www.ForTheLoveofPort.com
Following your eclectic portfolio, I want to ask you a little about your one Spanish selection, Montsarra cava. When I lived in the States, I sold this wine like water in the desert. I consistently was amazed at the quality to price ratio for this wine. What is your story behind this wine, and why is this the only Spanish wine in your portfolio? Do you have any plans to incorporate any other Spanish wines into your portfolio?
I love Spanish wine and I wish we represented more. A friend in Vancouver introduced me to Montsarra’s owners and they were one of the first brands in my portfolio. We were a bit late in starting with other Spanish wines and, between a few other importers, specialized in Spanish wine, they cherry picked the country before we got there. We are still looking but it has to be great.
Lastly, I would like to know if you have a favorite wine from your portfolio. Is there one that you think people overlook?
Chateau Musar -Ever since I tasted it in 1979 I have always said it is my favorite red wine (Yquem is my favorite wine of all). I love Musar because it is not just a delicious wine, it is a philosophy.
What wines do you enjoy outside of Port and Cava that are found in Portugal or Spain?
Well, the Portuguese table wine, of course. Quinta do Crasto and Barca Velha. I also love Setúbal, one of the greatest wines in the world.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions!
You are welcome.
Hope you all enjoyed the interview, and while that was fun, just wait. Check back Monday November 13th for a special contest. Up for grabs are 3 wines from Broadbent-wines. I can’t say much more but you’ll want to tell all your friends.
Till soon, Ryan Opaz
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