Ramos Pinto 40 Years Old Tawny Port: a superlative celebratory bottle
I felt extremely honoured to be given a bottle of this limited edition of 320 bottles of 40 Year Old Tawny Port, which pays tribute to João Nicolau de Almeida’s four decades in charge of oenology at Ramos Pinto. It is a truly exceptional Port for a truly exceptional winemaker and warm, generous man.
Savouring this marvellous vin de meditation, I was reminded of a discussion with Nicolau de Almeida three years ago, when he had this to say about Tawny Port:
“My father said Vintage Port is wine, Tawny is a Port, because it is about blending. It requires great skill and experience and it starts in the vineyard – the regions itself is a blend. It is not a flat country. Every corner you have a different wine, because of altitude, exposition, variety and year. Then you have the unique process of ageing and blending, using our ancestors’ wine and knowledge both. They make wine for their time and for the next generation – it takes five or six generations to make a 30 year old Tawny Port, so it is something very human.”
I can imagine that Ramos Pinto’s Port Winemaker Ana Rosas much enjoyed putting this blend together. The house does not make Colheitas and has not succumbed to the Very Old Tawny trend. Rather, the philosophy is to use the house’s exceptionally old wines to maintain the complexity and depth of Ramos Pinto’s house style, especially for the 20 Year Old and 30 Year Old Tawny Ports.
When I tasted blend components with Rosas and Nicolau de Almeida, we looked at barrels from 1924, 1909 and Bom Retiro (‘BR’) 100 years old (pictured). I am sure I encountered the black cardomom, dates and honey I found in these wines in this skillful 40 Year Old blend. Here is my note:
Ramos Pinto 40 Years Old Tawny Port
A deep mahogany hue, with a tawny penumbra and olive green notes to the rim. This is a sensual, super-expressive Tawny Port with pervasive aromatics to nose and palate. Long-lingering, they soften the blow of the emptied glass….My partner pronounced it the best Port she has ever tasted. Initially, this 40 Year Old Tawny reveals exotic toasted coconut, Bourbon vanilla and candied orange peel. With time in glass, it becomes darker – brooding – with layers of black cardamom, dates, honey, roasted, smoky hazelnuts, rum and raisin and black treacle. The finish is tremendously long, with great resonance of black cardamom spice and a warm, woody timbre (the bassline to its higher register spice and touch of “vinagrinho”). Like the man, generous, but purposeful, with delicious energy. 20.5% You will have to go to Portugal to find this scarce Port – I notice that Garrafeira Nacional in Lisboa are selling it for €330.90