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23 October 2012

Portugal: a couple of Ports of the moment

(Updated Feb 2013).
I suppose it's that time of year, when our thoughts start turning to Port and with it Portugal's stunningly landscaped Douro Valley vineyards, where these heady wines are created, and the pretty wee city of Porto, where most of the Port ageing cellars still watch over said river as it floods out into the Atlantic. Although it's a pity we don't tend to sample it all year round, as e.g. a chocolate partner or with soft fruit desserts or mature hard cheeses (but not necessarily Stilton: not convinced about how well they go together. Try it again and you'll see what I mean...). And why don't more Port wineries sell these in half-bottles (you can find some if you look hard enough), as 75cl is too much in one go unless sharing with a few like-minded big sweet tannic red quaffers. Admittedly, the two I've picked here should keep just fine for a week or two once open (but not until next Christmas though!). Here we go then:

2007 Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port (about £13 Tesco and Asda, £10 on offer). Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and others. Graham's, part of the mighty Symington Family Group, is perhaps more famous for its complex elegant aged Tawny Ports (10, 20, 30, 40 year-old even...), but this  one is a very nice example of this popular 'vintage' look-alike style, which is drinking well now although should soften out a little with a few months or more in bottle. Quite powerful and lush (2007 was a very good vintage) with its 20% alcohol coming through at first, it gets smoother and finer on the finish (especially after being open for a few days) showing an enticing mix of solid dark spicy sweet fruit and tannins set against lovely maturing savoury edges.
Fonseca Bin 27 Finest Reserve (£11.99 Morrison's, Tesco) - equally attractive chunky Port, probably made from a similar blend of varieties as above, this house is now owned by the Fladgate Partnership (Taylor's, Croft). This apparently historic blend (click on their web link under the photo above to discover the story behind it) is definitely a posh Ruby, towards LBV style with plenty of rich dark plum and liquorice, firm tannins nicely balancing out the sweetness and spicy finish with lingering meaty and tobacco notes.
Added Feb 2013: Taylor's 2007 Late Bottled Vintage Port (about £13-£15 Tesco, Asda etc.) - goes to show, in line with the Graham's above, that 2007 was a lovely vintage for this fruity vs structured style of Port. Rich and tasty with dark plums, liquorice and lightly baked / meaty / leather tones, chunky firm tannins vs lush sweet fruit vs oomph and warmth. Very nice with dark chocolate-coated dates and prunes, chocolate mints and blueberries too actually.

More Port articles and winery snapshots are HERE (e.g. Niepoort, Quevedo, Dona Matilde).

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.