A Rich and Versatile Wine
So much more than just an accompaniment for cheese, port has much to offer the open minded and adventurous drinker. From white to vintage, we pick out our top 5 ports
Round up by Rupert Watkins
One of the more overlooked wines out there, port has – even in the past 18 months – begun to cast off the shackles and appeal to a younger audience less aware of its riches and complexity. From deep inky vintages, refreshing white port and tonics to nutty and delicate hued tawnies, there is a port out there for any drink, any situation and any food pairing. The port world is slowly understanding people need to be taken on a journey, bought into the its universe and encouraged to find the right one for them – certainly helped by rapidly changing drinking habits and the fact port is half the ABV of spirits. In a world of variety, here’s our unranked top 5 ports:
Vintage: Fonseca 1977:
A beautifully deep and sweet vintage port from one of the greatest vintages of the late 20th century. On the nose it’s still fresh whilst on the palette there’s complex depth with chocolate and wild berries. Overall a wonderfully balanced wine, the writer had some laid down by his parents so he’s a trifle biased – but it’s divine.
Tawny: Churchill’s 20 year old:
Tawnies mature in small casks undergoing a steady process of controlled oxidation and esterification as the colour fades from deep, opaque ruby to orange-amber-tawny. Softer and less intense than a vintage, Churchill’s example is nutty and delicate both on the nose and palette. Drink with or after dinner.
White: Kopke 10 years old white port:
Port and tonic started to make waves in 2018. Light and refreshing – not to mention half the alcohol of gin – this example by the oldest port house of all (1638 since you ask) makes in lovely aperitive and goes very well on its own with sardines and other nutty fleshed fish.
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Colheita: Pocas Colheita 1996:
Colheita is a single vintage tawny style aged for at least seven years. It may have spent 20 or more years in a barrel before being bottled. This makes for a stunningly complete and lingering sweet wine. Not aged for that long Pocas’ 1996 retains a nutty edge harmonising with the berry and prune sweetness on the palette.
Young Vintage: Churchill’s 2016:
Churchill’s use less brandy than other well-known port houses so their wines are more on the dry side, this also means their younger immature vintages have the freshness and boldness of a Malbec style red – useful for food pairing. With berries on the nose and chocolate on the palette, this could be paired with game by the adventurous, the hint of sweetness working nicely with darker, gamey meat.