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03 January 2017

Colheita Port: Cálem, Kopke, Barros, Burmester

Douro Valley vineyards by RMJ
Sogevinus is a sizable brand-owning Port company (they claim to be the number one seller in Portugal) with four famous labels in their portfolio (as tasting-noted below): Cálem, Kopke, Barros and Burmester. They also specialise in the Colheita style, a traditional Vintage Tawny Port (from a single named year and aged for many years in cask depending on house style and philosophy) made in limited quantities that you don't see around so much in export markets. These seven vintages, spanning all four brands and from the youngest 2003 (that's a white Port too) back to 1961, were showcased at an esoteric tasting at this year's London Wine Fair tutored by entertaining wine maverick Joe Wadsack and Sogevinus' Tania B. Oliveira (a while ago now admittedly, but a few months are irrelevant to these ports time-wise...).
Tania told us that these wines were bottled two weeks before the event: "They are usually bottled on demand so are still in cask... Look out for the bottling date on each bottle. Some other houses bottle when they think it's ready." Grape varieties include the usual blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and others; except the second white wine obviously - rarer still as a Colheita - made from 'traditional Douro varieties' (as much detail as I could find anywhere online), which are all sourced from the various Quintas owned by each company. See www.sogevinus.com for more info.

Cálem 2000 Colheita - Still relatively red/brown/orange in colour, toffee/coffee and dried raspberry notes with caramelised pecan nut edges, sweet and fiery palate initially although still tastes young, complex flavours with lingering sweetness vs more balanced 'cut'; powerful and concentrated, surprisingly fruity lively and well-balanced though, will keep and improve for some years yet. About £32 in the UK - Amathus Drinks.

Kopke 2003 white Colheita - A hot vintage. Volatile 'furniture polish' tones, still surprisingly ester-y actually; more obvious wood texture layered with roast hazelnut and walnut notes, tangy and punchy with attractive mix of subtle vs full-on flavours / sweetness; very nice and different 'white' Port, could age it for longer. £45 approx. - Hayward Bros.

Barros 1996 Colheita - Not much less colour than the 2000, a tad lighter/browner perhaps. A touch more 'volatile' and toffee-ish on the nose although still showing attractive red fruits and petals; relatively soft and mature with sweet pecan nut flavours, less punchy and drinking nicely now. £23-£28 The Drink Shop, Strictly Wine, Wine Man, Wine Therapy, Wine Poole.

Burmester 1989 Colheita - Quite brown/orange with 'Madeira' edges, oxidised caramel and nut notes with a fiery palate rounded by white chocolate and cocoa flavours, fairly sweet despite the alcohol cut; tasty now, gets more complex on the lingering finish. USA: Wineworth Importers (WA).

Barros 1974 Colheita - The year of the Revolution, not declared as a 'Vintage' Port year. This does not look 15 years older than the above! Slightly redder even. Spicy alcohol and walnut on the nose with sweet raisin and aromatic ginger cake flavours, sweet palate with a kick but layered with complex oxidised characters, still very alive; very nice Port. £97-£98 Wine from Portugal, Portugal Vineyards. €91 Portuguese Wines Shop.

Cálem 1961 Colheita - A touch browner and lighter but not much. 'Volatile' with baked nutty and coffee tones, woody even; punchy sweet and concentrated mouth-feel, turning tangier and more complex with sweet dried berries, textured palate too with almost old malt whisky edges; long and tasty finish, still surprisingly 'young' really. £168-£190 Amathus Drinks, Portugal Vineyards.

Kopke 1966 Colheita - Deeper browner colour. Mahogany and dark roast coffee on the nose with caramel, concentrated with nutty coffee flavours, punchy still rounded by nice tangy vs sweet berry fruit, powerful finish adding freshness to the rich backdrop. Wow. £117.50-£130 Hennings Wine, Davy's. US: Wineworth Importers (WA).

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