TOP TEN PORTS FOR CHRISTMAS

TOP TEN PORTS FOR CHRISTMAS image

By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 18 Nov 2017

Our ten best Ports to suit all budgets for sipping this Christmas - from great value Fine White and Crusted Ports to Colheita and Vintage Port treats:


WHITE PORT
Quinta Santa Eufemia White Port Appellation Wine Wine Line PortugalQuinta de Santa Eufemia Fine White
(£10.95 for 50 cl bt Appellation Wines, Edinburgh; Wineline Portugal)   ***STAR VALUE***
From a tiny family quinta high above Regua in the Douro.  Run by Alzira Carvalho, who was taught to make port by her grandfather whilst her sisters learnt to sew.  A combination of traditional foot treading and modern stainless steel winemaking with three years oak ageing in large Portuguese oak.  Very elegant clean floral grapey character with good complexity for the price.  Serve as an unusual aperitif with salted almonds and olives: 19.5%

Kopke White 10 year old (£22 Oddbins; Inverarity 121, Bath St, Glasgow; Oxford Wine; Cambridge Wine; Harrods, Nicholls & Perks; Hennings Wine)
A serious mature example which tastes more like tawny than white port.  Made from seven white grapes (the best of which is Malvasia Fina) with the fortifying process added over 3 or 4 stages to ensure well integrated spirit.  Enticing spicy aroma with hazelnut, almond and orange flavours, beautifully smooth & superbly packaged in a wooden box – it would make a great gift.  Serve alongside pate starter or with cheddar cheese: 20%

AGED TAWNY PORT
Graham’s 20 year old Tawny
(£37 The Wine Society; £37.99 Waitrose; Ocado)
20 year old tawny is my ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to aged tawny.  Just the right balance of nuttiness and fruit.  This is deliciously delicate with pale colour and hazelnut, cinnamon, orange peel and dried apricot flavours – made from a blend of on average twenty years old cask-aged tawny ports.  Serve with Christmas cake, pecan pie or Manchego cheese: 20%

COLHEITA TAWNY PORT
Quinta do Noval Colheita 2003
(£42.95 Ocado)
Long matured in cask and bottled last year, Noval’s vintage tawny has impressive rich ripe fruits from the very hot 2003 vintage.  Nutty spicy flavours like a beautifully aged tawny.  No need to decant this – serve straight from the bottle with roasted almonds, Cheddar, Manchego and Membillo: 21%

Kopke Colheita 1981Kopke Colheita 1981 (£79.95 Inverarity 121, Bath St, Glasgow; Hedonism Wine; Nicholls & Perks; www.vintagewinegifts.co.uk)   ***STAR BUY***
A real treat for tawny lovers from the oldest port shipper, Kopke (established in 1638) – today one of the best Colheita tawny specialists.  This is proof that great Colheita can still be made in poor vintage port years.  Spicy aromas, very refined nutty palate, beautifully sleek silky texture and rich powerful concentration. Serve with tangerine parfait or a carmelised fruit dessert like tarte tatin - or just sip on its own with roasted almonds: 20%

PREMIUM RUBY: CRUSTED PORT
Exhibition Crusted Port, Bottled 2007
(£13.95 The Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com)    ***STAR VALUE***
Great price for this luscious vintage blend of two or three harvests – treated like a vintage port with just two years in wood and bottled unfiltered.  Hints of its maker’s Taylor’s style with sweet voluptuous fruit and vibrancy.  Similar price to many LBVs, but better value.  Needs decanting, but really worth the effort – serve with Lanark Blue or Fleet Valley Blue cheeses: 20%
                                       
Warre's Quinta Cavadinha 2002 PortPREMIUM RUBY: SINGLE QUINTA VINTAGE
Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha 2002 (£32.99 Waitrose; Marks & Spencer; Ocado; The Whisky Exchange) 
A very impressive effort from Warre, the oldest British port shipper, from their top steeply terraced ‘Grade A’ Quinta near Pinhao in the Cima Corgo, central Douro region.  For those who like ruby port with deep colour and voluptuous ripe sweet rubies.  Deliciously rich damson and prune aromas, generously sweet with firm ripe tannins and a little grip to the finish: 20%

 

Niepoort Quinta do Passadouro 1997 (£41.90 Berry Bros & Rudd www.bbr.com; www.laywheeler.com)  ***STAR BUY***
This was unanimously chosen as the favourite Single Quinta port at our recent tasting.  A really impressive effort from Dutch port shipper Dirk van der Niepoort – if you can track it down.  Beautifully mature generous blackcherry fruits, liquorice and spice with fabulous length and complexity: 20.5%

PREMIUM RUBY: VINTAGE
Quinta do Noval Vintage 2003
(£69 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh)  ***STAR BUY***
Remember the hot summer of 2003?  The blazing heat (over 45 degrees C) up in the Douro Valley produced grapes with fabulous richness and structure.  This is a very stylish vintage port, traditionally made with foot trodden grapes in Noval’s old granite lagares.  Dense ruby, liquorice, violets and damsons, still tightly knit, but very drinkable now.  Intense and elegant.  Needs decanting.  Serve with creamy Stilton:  19.5%

Taylor’s 1985 (£75 The Wine Society; Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh; Majestic Wine)
For those who prefer their vintage port robust and firm, Taylor’s style is a little more muscular and peppery than other shippers.  Rich dark cherry and liquorice notes with cedary spicy edge, velvet smooth palate and a firm fiery finish: 20.5%                                                                         

Join Rose’s Chocolate & Wines for Christmas Tasting in association with Thinking Chocolate in Edinburgh on Tuesday 12 December £42 www.rosemurraybrown.com