I don’t drink a lot of port. But a glass of tawny every now and then can be fun, even in the absence of Stilton, a roaring fire or a bearskin rug. In December, I poured some ports at the end of a tasting and they were more popular than I had imagined. One fifty-something participant commented how much he liked them but that he didn’t have the time in the winter to sit around and drink them. So he resolved to try a port in the summer. Indeed, that’s what those in the trade often do in Portugal, putting a 10- or 20-year-old tawny in the fridge and serving it chilled on a summer afternoon.
Last week I had the chance to taste through the lineup of Taylor’s tawny ports, from the 10-year-old to the 40-year-old. I’ll cut to the chase: I thought the 20-year-old was the most complete package, especially considering price. Read more…
On Wednesday, Adrian Bridge, managing director of Taylor-Fladgate, unveiled to New York wine writers a new port. Or make that an old port: it was made in 1855, before phylloxera ravaged European vineyards.
An elderly lady of a “respected family” in the Duoro recently died with no heirs. She left much of her estate to Portuguese social security and the lawyers wanted to sell off the casks of old port to liquidate assets. Family records showed that the casks dated to 1855, a single vintage tawny, or cask-aged style. (Technically, a Colheita, a single-vintage, cask aged port. Vintage port, by contrast, does most of its aging in the bottle.) Through evaporation, the wine became concentrated yet the casks contained enough port to fill 1,400 bottles. The management at Taylor originally purchased the casks to add to their 40-year-old tawny, but, upon tasting it, they decided it merited a special bottling and have done so calling it “Scion.” In case you were thinking about picking up a six-pack on the way home for work–at a mere $3,200 a bottle, more than Krug Clos D’Ambonnay!–think again, since only two hundred bottles are destined for the US market.
As you can see in the above photo, the Scion (middle glass) was even darker than the the 20-year-old and 30-year-old Tawnies in the glasses to either side of it. The aroma to me was subtle and, no doubt as a result of my being influenced by the story of casks reposing in a cellar, smelled sort of dusty more than anything else. But after some swirling, I was able to coax out some of the plummy complexity. On the palate, the wine was very much alive. The acidity was really striking for such an old wine, a fact that may come from different grape varieties, more likely, from a cool cellar, Bridge said. The wine exhibits some toffee, dried fruit notes, spice, faint orange zest, coffee grounds and not much sign of oxidation–surprising complexity for such a mature wine. And a rare treat to be able to drink it.
More to follow in a future post about their other, affordable tawnies.
How far would you drive to taste some vintage port? That’s most often a rhetorical question but I actually confronted it head on last week as a rare vertical tasting including some legendary wines came on the agenda in Montreal. Since I tucked away some 2003 Fonseca from one son’s birth year, I thought this would at the very least offer a something of a preview of how it will taste when we drink it together in 2024 and beyond. So I hopped in the car. Read more…