At Fox Run, we make red port from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and sometimes Lemberger. We taste our fermenting juice daily, and wait for the moment when we no longer have just juice, but it hasn’t quite metamorphosized to wine yet. It’s a short-lived transition, and if we miss it, it is gone forever. At that moment, we press the grapes and arrest the fermentation with the addition of alcohol, and we pump our brand new port into barrels. Some is destined to be ruby port, which is blended young. We select the plump, juicy ports for this purpose. The more ethereal ports become part of our Tawny port program.
Next comes the really hard part: we wait, because tawny port is only ready when it’s ready. Eventually, the strawberry and blueberry flavors of fresh young port give way to those of dried fruits, tea, butterscotch, and chocolate. Careful blending of barrels across varieties and ages yields a luxurious port in which dark, rich elements are balanced with some younger aromas, and palate-cleansing notes freshen the finish.
The idea of Hedonia started in early 2011 when Peter Bell was experimenting with Traminette wine. Traminette is a hybrid grape from its parent Gewurztraminer. It is very aromatic and is commonly added to wines when blending. Peter conducted an experiment and fermented a small batch dry and then fortified it to see what would happen.
"We were surprised, and very happily so," Bell recalls. "There was an immediate sense that we had found something special."
We recommend this unique fortified wine as an aperitif rather than the usual dessert wine. We believe it's more appropriate before a meal. Our favorite way of serving Hedonia is to make sure the wine is very chilled and poured over a large ice cube and an added zest of orange peel. The orange plays well with the flavors of Traminette. We also like to add it to your favorite dry sparkling wine.