“Tawny – How I Loves Ya’, How I Loves Ya’ …. “

A reader posed this question on this week’s Free Range chat by The Washington Post’s Food section. Since she hit upon one of my favorite subjects – Port – I thought I’d share her question and my response:

Help with port
My husband enjoys port, so I would like to buy him a few bottles. As he does not treat himself, my thought was to purchase one or two special bottles but also a couple of inexpensive and unique bottles as a gift. Any recommendations?

An excellent year. I met my wife while these grapes were still on the vine.

And my answer:

For special bottles, look for vintage port with some age, say at least a decade or more. My favorites are Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca, while Niepoort, Quinta Noval, Symington and Grahams are good labels. Note that Vintage Port and Late Bottled Vintage Port are not the same – LBV’s are aged a few years before bottling and meant to be drunk upon release, while Vintage Ports are intended for long-term cellaring. If your husband is a collector and young enough to defer gratification, the 2007 Vintage Ports are fantastic – but right now they are big and tannic, and will benefit from 12-15 years cellaring.

Another special bottle would be an aged tawny, say a 10 year old (about $30) or a 20 year old (about $50). Again, Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca are the go-to’s.

For a more modest Port, those LBVs can be quite good. There are some nice ruby ports, too (they typically don’t say Ruby on the label, just Port.) Fonseca has an organic one called Terra Bella, I think, and the Noval Black, which I wrote up in a column on Port last December, is excellent.

About Dave McIntyre

Wine columnist for The Washington Post, co-founder of DrinkLocalWine.com, and blogger at Dave McIntyre's WineLine (dmwineline.com).
This entry was posted in Douro, Port, Portugal, Washington Post, Wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “Tawny – How I Loves Ya’, How I Loves Ya’ …. “

  1. Joe Roberts says:

    I feel old because I get the reference in the title of this…🙂

  2. Mary Ann Dancisin says:

    Taylor’s 20 Year Old Tawny is to die for!

  3. Dave, we’re planning a trip to Portugal in March 2011 — do you have any winery recommendations?

    • Dave McIntyre says:

      You must go to Oporto and Vila Nova di Gaia (just across the river) and visit some Port houses. I’m not really sure how well set up they are for tourism. If you can get to the Douro itself, the scenery is fantastic. Crasto is a great winery, and Quinta Nova has a nice inn. The Taylor Fladgate folks have also opened a hotel.

      Dave

    • Dave McIntyre says:

      Here’s a link to the Yeatman Hotel in Oporto, actually on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river.

      On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 10:39 AM, Dave McIntyre wrote:

      > You must go to Oporto and Vila Nova di Gaia (just across the river) and > visit some Port houses. I’m not really sure how well set up they are for > tourism. If you can get to the Douro itself, the scenery is fantastic. > Crasto is a great winery, and Quinta Nova has a nice inn. The Taylor > Fladgate folks have also opened a hotel. > > Dave >

    • Joe Roberts says:

      I can attest to the Yeatman being DA BOMB. Amazing place.

  4. George Christo says:

    Great post to select as a question, Dave! I love port, but I treat it very much as a once-in-a-blue-moon treat.

    Vintage port is where this question takes me, for its special criterion. There’s nothing quite like a 1977 port for me, but those are getting really hard to find, and without breaking the bank, it’s doubly difficult. If you can find a 1941, 1946, 1963, or 1970, wow!

    They declare vintages only when the season “warrants” it, as I understand it. I could be wrong. Some are better than others. 1985 is the year that’s probably easiest to find and drinking the best right now. 1994 and 1997 are supposed to be better vintages, but may not quite have the tannic edge off that 1985 has mellowed out of. 2007 was reputed to be killer, but you don’t want that unless it’s going to sit in the cellar, like Dave said.

    Dow’s Graham’s, Warre’s, and Fonseca are my go-to labels, but the vintage year and the fact that it’s true “port” from Portugal is more telling of the quality than the label, IMO.

    I may sound like a wine snob with this suggestion, and for that, I apologize. Explorer is where I firmly plant myself, and vintage is where I know how to answer the port question. ‘Nuff said.

  5. ed oldfield says:

    During our time in Oporto, the port houses consistently reommended that vintage port be consumed in 24-48 hours, while the tawnys could be kept a month. They noted you could look at the closure and tell; vintage port (standard cork) while those with a stoppered cork keep longer.

    Highly recommend visiting:
    1) Taylor Fladgate (high up on the hill, fabulous views, best restaraunt we dined at in Portugal, open for lunch, tasting room had the 2007 vintage by the glass (for a nominal price)
    2) Fonseca had a great tour and tasting room

    All the port houses were very welcoming for tourists.

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