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?
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.