Angelica, a Port Style Wine

Darcy O'Neil :: August 31, 2006 12:27 PM

On one of my “tours” I picked up some new products and one of them was a port wine style spirit called Angelica. When I looked up the traditional definition of Angelica, this is what I found: “An inexpensive fortified wine, typically made from mission or muscat grapes and enhanced with brandy. Angelica wine usually contains 10 to 15 percent residual sugar.” Now the quality of the Kittling Ridge Angelica is better than this definition provides, but the definition is basically accurate. This is a dessert wine made in the style of port wines, but because of international trademark laws only product from Portugal can legally be called Port, hence Angelica. It is a 1999 vintage product made from villard noir grapes, pot still brandy and barrel aged.

The modern idea of port style wines is to create a sweet, fortified wine, usually served after dinner. The history of port is a little different, but that’s for another day. When the grapes are fermenting, the fermentation process is prematurely halted by adding a distilled spirit, usually brandy. Because the ethanol in the brandy raises the ethanol level of the fermented wine to levels that are around 17%, it halts the yeast from producing more ethanol. This is now a fortified wine and is allowed to rest in barrels or stainless steel vats until it is ready for bottling.

Kittling Ridge Angelica is only available at the winery / distillery in Grimsby, Ontario. This product has won a couple of awards recently and seems to be gaining interest. The brandy used in this product is pot distilled at Kittling Ridge so this product is a complete in house creation.  There is a possibility that the used port barrels will be used to age whisky made at the Kittling Ridge distillery, makers of Forty Creek.


Silver Medal - 2006 Tasters Guild International
Best of Category - 2006 Canadian Wine Championship

This port style fortified wine is made from villard noir grapes. These grapes are a red hybrid (technical designation Seyve-Villard 18-315) with fair cold hardiness (-10 deg F), which good for the Canadian growing climate. Villard noir also has good disease resistance, low vigour and good cropping and wine qualities. Still commonly grown in France for use as a wine grape where it ripens late mid-season and is a heavy producer. The Oxford Companion to Wine states that this is a “great French viticulture secret.” At the current time interest in this grape varietal, in France, partially driven by political reasons. The number of villard noir vines, in France, is declining rapidly and will probably be eradicated in a decade or so. The villard noir grape is being replaced with more commercially recognized grapes such as syrah/shiraz and pinot varieties.

The flavour of this Angelica is unique in that it is sweet like port but has a nice alcohol warmth. The nose expresses raisin and grape notes with some chocolate and dark fruit like prunes. On the tongue this wine is sweet and has flavours of chocolate and raisin. There is a slight amount of acidity, but not a lot. The finish is fairly long with a nice sweetness, but subtle. This product would be better if it had more wood notes from the barrel aging.

The chances of finding this product on the open market are slim to nil, but I thought that I enjoyed it so much that it should be written about. Hopefully Kittling Ridge will continue to make this port style product and continue to perfect it for future release to the general market. If you are looking for something new to try, give some late bottled ports a try. They are reasonably priced and are very good after a great meal or as a night cap.

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