An obscure European import with an intense following. A little bombastic, not the type you could hang out with every day. While I could be talking about the film director Werner Herzog, in this case the topic is port.
I don't know why he came to mind as I was taking my first turn with an American port: the Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port. It had the rich raisin scent usually found in port, along with a distinct hit of chocolate, but the taste delivered a measure of the heat that zin is famous for. It's not overly sweet or heavy (19 percent alcohol, about $24 a bottle).
Zinfandel is not one of the grapes normally associated with this style of wine, but I am happy to see port being pushed in new directions. It's still a niche market, but it seems port is gaining ground here, with five dozen California wineries now producing the fortified wine.
Herzog left Germany for Los Angeles; port migrated from its origins in the Douro Valley of Portugal to the vineyards of California. Here's to more mixing of Old Europe with "the New World."