Port is the most recognizable name in fortified dessert wines. In 2007, Brian Carter started a project to produce a great port-style wine in Washington. Working with the Newhouse family on Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley, we planted the Portuguese varieties Touriga Nacional, Souzao, Tinto Cão and Tinto Roriz (also known as Tempranillo) - the finest port varieties used to make the great fortified dessert wines of Portugal.
Hailing from the Douro River Valley in northwest Portugal, Port was originally created in the 18th century by the British who experimented with adding brandy to still red wines, fortifying them to stabilize them for the extended voyage across the Bay of Biscay and up the coast of France to England.
Most port-style wines have a semi-sweet to the notably sweet taste profile. Brian Carter Cellars Opulento is no different showing the intensity of fruit with a deep impenetrable garnet color, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, and chocolate with hints of almond and orange peel. On the palate, this wine has opulent flavors of chocolate and berry fruits with a perfectly balanced and satisfyingly sweet finish. The sweetness in the wine comes from the brandy that is added during fermentation, which halts the fermentation process, leaving some sugar behind.
Serve with your favorite dark chocolate dessert, such as our Flourless Chocolate Cake.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
• 8 oz unsalted butter
• 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
• 1 Tbls cocoa powder
• 1 cup white sugar
• 5 eggs, separated
• 1 cup slivered almonds ground till fine or
• 1 cup almond flour
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease 9” springform pan with butter or pan spray and set aside.
Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder either in a double boiler over water or in a microwave. Mix together till homogenous. Beat 5 egg yolks with sugar till pale yellow. Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and mix well. Add ground almonds (or almond flour) and mix.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites till stiff. Gently fold whites into chocolate mixture.
Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake at 350˚F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and slide a knife around the inside of springform to separate cake from pan to eliminate center of cake falling. Allow to cool.
When ready to serve, remove the jacket from springform pan and slice into 16 servings, as the cake is incredibly rich. Serve with raspberry purée or fresh raspberries and whipped cream. The perfect dessert served with Brian Carter Cellars Opulento!
Meet our Employees
Jenny Schaening is Brian Carter Cellar’s Tasting Room Manager and is always ready with a smile and ready to create the perfect wine tasting experience for you. If you have any questions about our tasting room, you can contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is your favorite part about your job?
I began by volunteering with Brian Carter Cellars during crush season in 2009 while I was working in the tasting room at Columbia Winery. I quickly became hooked with learning everything there was to know about wine production and went on to complete two years of study at the NW Wine Academy. In 2012 I was offered a position at Brian Carter Cellars working in the tasting room and was promoted to Tasting Room Manager in 2017. I continue to get my hands dirty during crush as often as Brian will let me.
What attracted you to work for Brian Carter Cellars?
Meeting the customers that come through our door from all walks of life. I love working with my staff - they are super energetic, passionate about wine and a joy to have on the team.
What is your favorite Brian Carter Wine?
I would have to say Trentenaire, which I consider the most unique wine in Brian’s portfolio. With the main grape variety being Petit Verdot it also includes four other Bordeaux varieties. Big, bold, inky, slightly tannic and beautiful in its bouquet. I adore wine that you can sink your teeth into!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am all about cooking, enjoying great wine, spending time with my family and friends and listening to fun eclectic music! I would consider myself a culinary adventurer. Always up for exploring new cuisines, mastering recipes and creating some of my own. Sharing my cooking with others is one of my greatest passions.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a BFA and an MA in graphic design and photography. My first job was dressing up as an elf and taking holiday pictures of unhappy kids on Santa’s lap.
Tell us a little bit about your family?
We are Michigan natives that transplanted to this beautiful state in 2004. I have three grown children, a wonderful husband, and a very active mini-Aussie named Audie. The rest of my extended family still live in Michigan, so I am a frequent mid-west visitor. I consider Seattle my home.
Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving
What will you be serving with your Thanksgiving dinner?
Question: Red or White? - A good and simple strategy for Thanksgiving wine is to offer a great bottle of each to allow your guests their choice. Plus, it's a good opportunity to introduce your guests to something new that they might not have tried before.
For a white wine, look for a wine with well-balanced acidity. The Oriana is the perfect choice for those prefer traditional white wines. With its seductive aromas and perfect balance, it’s popularity just keeps soaring. Oriana is a richly aromatic wine, resplendent with tangerine, apricot, ripe pear and apple with touches of honey and anise. Crisp acidity greets the palate while mouth-filling fruit flavors linger making this an excellent companion to any Thanksgiving table.
For reds, look for soft tannins that will yield to and blend with your dishes and will delight most red wine lovers without overpowering lighter turkey flavors. The ripeness of the 2013 Byzance with its complex nose of bright red cherries, tar, and white pepper. The wine explodes in your mouth with lots of bright fruit and finishes with a long slightly earthy mineral note. A great balance and a hint of tannin make this wine a great match for a wide range of foods, including your mother-in-law’s stuffing recipe.
Ending on a Sweet Note - Well, what pairs with traditional Thanksgiving desserts like Pumpkin or Pecan Pie? We suggest a glass of Opulento. Deep impenetrable garnet color, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, and chocolate with hints of almond and orange peel. On the palate, this wine has opulent flavors of chocolate and berry fruits with a perfectly balanced and satisfyingly sweet finish.
Grapes are in! It is time to look back at the harvest and see what happened. Another memorable harvest indeed. A successful one, my 39th in Washington State. While the wines are certainly not finished, I am happy to say that 2018 was a good one for Brian Carter Cellars and Washington State. The flavors are really nice across almost all varieties. It was a warmer year which favored the varieties that like basking in the heat such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Just to put the heat in perspective: while 2018 was warmer than average, it was not in the record-setting league of 2015. 2018 was in terms of heat pretty close to 2017. The hot summer got harvest started a week earlier than normal, but a moderate September and October temperatures gave us good hang time on most of our fruit. Harvest finished at the end of October which is pretty normal. We did have some rain this year, which caused us to cancel several pickings in October, but it did not last long and did not seem to have a significant effect on quality.
Quantity wise, yields were pretty close to expected in most vineyards. I worked with each grower to assure we had a modest yield while supplying what we needed. In total we crushed about 160 tons and just under 100 tons for Brian Carter Cellars, the balance being for our custom clients. This puts Brian Carter Cellars production a bit higher than the 2017 harvest and almost exactly what we did in 2016.
Again, the wines are tasting good. The white and rosé wines are fruit forward with some weight; the reds are dark in color and have good varietal character and balance. The tannins in the Bordeaux varieties are there but have a nice ripe smoothness. More to come as the wines get finished; I can’t wait until the spring when I start blending!
Brian Carter, Winemaker