Port: a varied tasting including age dated white ports and some fine colheitas

The previous year I’d visited the most eminent of the British shippers – Fladgate and Symington, so the aim of this tasting was to get better acquainted with ports which are not listed or less visible on the UK market.  There was no shortage of highlights:

Colheita tawnies – much as I like age dated tawnies (blends of vintages averaging e.g. 10 years old for a 10 year old), Colheita tawny ports (and madeira for that matter) really float my boat.  From a single vintage, colheitas have great individuality of character and focus, making for a fascinating vertical tasting  – see the Wiese & Krohn and Andresen notes below.

Age dated white ports – a relatively new category and exciting find – especially the exquisite Quinta de Santa Eufémia wines that I was able to contrast with their tawny equivalents.  Winemaker Alzira Carvalho explained to me that she aims for a silky smooth style that finishes quite dry so that they are not too heavy.   I found that the wines more fruit and subtler oxidative notes and spirit than the tawnies.  Alzira recommends they are enjoyed alone as an aperitif or with foie gras, dried fruits or nuts or cheese.  Churchill, Andresen and Niepoort also make very good age dated white ports.

Sandeman Tawny 10 Years – v spicy, fruity and nutty – a glossy wine.

Sandeman Tawny 30 Years – sweeter more evident spirit on the nose; the palate is nutty, elegant with good line/persistence with a green walnut edge and attractive balancing dryish finish.  Good life to this.

 Sandeman Tawny 40 Years – good complexity, depth and structure with walnut, citrus pith and peel and a dried herb character.

Ferreira Dona Antónia – this tawny, aged for 8 years in cask, shows plenty of fruit on nose and palate with a core of deep plum, spicy cinnamon, darker fruits and a lick of liquorice –  fruity rather than sweet.

Ferreira 10 Years – deep colour, rich and woody in a good way with linseed – a patina of age; on the dryish side with good depth of flavour. 

 Ferreira 20 Years – dry, evolved, subtle spices, good persistence and balance.

Ferreira Vintage 2000 – deep colour, huge fruit- fruit jelly, blueberry and cassis with  liquorice and carraway spice and velvety tannins; young, v intense and rich.

Offley 10 Years – darker and fruitier than Ferreira in style, with less oomph; lots of liquorice.

Offley 20 Years  – softer “demerara style”, richer with sweet, buttery caramel and walnut flavours.  A little spirity.

Offley 30 Years  – subtle pecan nose, butter hints, developed, smooth, pecan nut character, rich woody veneer. Very good.

 Offley Boa Vista 2003 – deep colour, inky floral nose; rich and velvety layers of red and black fruits with flowers, coffee/ cafe crème; nice ripe though present supporting tannins.

Poças Vintage 2004 – deep inky colour, floral with fruit jelly underneath. The palate is peppery, with lively fresh fruit, earthy raspberry and liquorice; firm grip of ripe tannins –  lots of lift and life here.

Poças Vintage 2005 – a deeper colour with an opulent nose and really flashy fruit –  raspberry and darker, lifted floral notes and powdery ripe tannins.  Heady.

Poças Colheita 1994 – deep rich mahogany with flashes of russet; well structured, nutty, dry style with a firm finish; nice balance.

Poças Colheita 1967 – brown with a golden edge, though the palate is structured, fresh, persistent and long with great underlying acidity. Fabulous structure.

Poças 10 Anos – rich but developed, very nutty, dryish with orange peel and spicy plum cake; good intensity and a smooth mouthfeel.

Poças 20 Anos – quite round style with demerara edged ripe and green walnuts.

Quinta de Santa Eufémia White 10 anos – paler than a tawny but pale amber with a lifted  nose and palate of flowers and white pepper with underlying walnut.  Elegant with less evident oak than a tawny and a dryish finish.

Quinta de Santa Eufémia White 20 anos – fuggy smoky character with green olive, bit salty, guava, lychee – madeira-like flavour profile but fruitier and more voluminous/round in the mouth.

 Quinta de Santa Eufémia White 30 anos – a deeper colour, with green olive and salty tang to the nose; very complex layered, exacting (in an exciting way) wine with great balance, length and persistence.

 Andresen 10 year old White Port – clean, subtle, fresh, blanched almond round nuttiness. Well integrated spirit. Elegant,

Andresen 10 years Tawny – smoky with rich, soft, raisiny fruit – well made and balanced crowd pleaser.

Andresen Colheita 1900 – still powerfully fruity and vigorous, tons of spice, nutty notes but it’s the fruit that amazes and muscular structure  – very layered but with that colheita (single vintage) power and intensity – wow!

Andresen Colheita 1975 – golden rim, fresh mineral nose, smoky edge – sinewy, tight, acidity and taffeta tannins.

 Andresen Colheita 1980 – a hint of butter mints, more developed but quite vigorous with a green walnut undertow and round smooth glycerol quality.

Andresen Colheita 1991 – caramel, nuts, orange peel and spice-laced smoothie – very moreish.

Andresen Colheita 1992  –much drier style than the 91 with more evolved walnut and smoked almond flavours.

Andresen Colheita 1995 – spicy and youthful with red fruits, good vigour and a whisp of smoke.

Andresen Colheita 1997 – rich, fulsome liquorice-edged ripe fruit; quite round – one sense more in the mold of the 91 than the 92.

Royal Oporto 40 Years Old – very taut terse, dry but good density  – a serious wine.

Royal Oporto Colheita 1953 – great pedigree with lots of vigour, depth and tafetta layers.

Royal Oporto Colheita 1977 – bottled in 2008, youthful, structured, focused and on the  dry side with an enjoyable woody resonance/timbre.

Real Companhia Velha Quinta das Carvalhas Vintage 2003 – lots of eucalptyptus-edged ripe fruit with great vigour, balance and some floral lift.

 Quinta do Tedo 2000 – made from grapes from the 85 year old Savedra vineyard this is quite pale with lifted liquorice, red fruits – cherry, raspberry, baked raspberry – fresh and  mineral, it’s an elegant wine.

Quinta do Tedo 2003 – a deeper colour than the 2000, this has a wild cherry nose and palate with liquorice and eucalypt.  It is altogether denser, with more depth and concentration of flavour and bigger tannins than the 2000 – partly about the vintage but also because 2000 was the maiden vintage and they have got to know the vineyards better.

Quinta do Tedo 2004 – very aromatic, forward wine with lots of enjoyable kir, raspberry and chocolate flavours.

Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1998 – powerful, textured wine with spicy plum and liquorice – youthful.

Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1997 – very spicy, long and persistent – again those primary youthful plum and liquorice.

 Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1995 – bullish wine, super spicy with liquorice.

 Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1991 – much paler and more mellow with that a fuggy, smokiness I often associate with barrel aged fortifieds – very long, nutty and fresh.

 Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1987 – wonderfully smooth with buttered caramel and nuts – very moreish.

 Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1983 – my second favourite of the tasting, this paler colheita has an intriguing menthol, nutty nose and a spicy carraway and fennel notes augment the nuts on the palate – long, persistent, very good.

 Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1978 – pale amber, spicy carraway, café crème, but a little fuggy so not as pure as the 83 and less balanced (warmer/more spirity).

 Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1968 – nice balance, svelte and drinking very well now with caramel, vanilla and nuts.

 Wiese & Krohn Colheita 1961 – my pick of the bunch for its youthful vigor – really very fruity, robust, rich and spicy.  Lots of go in this one.

 Wiese & Krohn Tawny 20 year old – good complexity with taffeta layers; a nutty core with spun demerara sugar makes for a rich toothsome wine.

Wiese & Krohn Tawny 30 year old – rich and dark with molasses and spice, naughty and nice!

Barros Quinta Galeira 2006 – 50% Touriga Nacional the balance an old vine blend – very youthful and raw now with lots of grippy tannins, but some good fruit with floral and chocolate notes.

Barros 2003 – solidly built with a deep seam of liquorice-edged black fruit and big but ripe tannins.

Kopke Vintage 2005 – a very deep colour, this is expressively fruity now showing raspberry and raisins, together with chocolate and lifted spice box and violet notes.  Muscular supporting tannins will play out the long game.

Kopke 40 year old Tawny – golden yellow rim to the tawny core, this is really spicy with lively acidity and an attractive café crème note.

Calem 20 year old – quite delicate and lingering with nuts and fennel; nice balance.

Calem Colheita 1994 – a real smoothie, this is forward and lithe, with deep demerara sugar, dried fruits, nuts and caramel.

Burmester Colheita 1989 – a round, generous style, in fact quite chunky with chocolate, caramel and nuts.  Fruit and nut in a glass!

Burmester Colheita 1955 – oozes hazelnut, caramel, vanilla and chocolate, this is warming and generous with an attractive spicy note to its persistent finish.

 Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
November 2008
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