Thrilling new Tawny/Colheita releases: Kopke, Graham’s, Taylor’s & Alves de Sousa

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Though founded in 1638, I’m told Kopke was officially acknowledged to be the oldest Port brand in 1940.  It’s best known for its Tawny and Colheita Ports, so what better way to celebrate its 375th anniversary than the release of a 1940 Colheita – a limited 375 bottle edition (my tasting note below).

It’s no bad time to underline its credentials in this niche category either.  It seems that everyone wants a piece of the action.  In particular, The Fladgate Partnership made no secret of its ambitions when it acquired Colheita specialist Wiese & Krohn lock, (very aged Tawny) stock and barrel in June.

The week before last, CEO Adrian Bridge gave me a sneak preview of the first of a series of 50 year old Colheita Ports to be released from said Wiese & Krohn stock – a 1964 Taylor’s Colheita. Bridge told me, where Taylor’s is the leading Tawny brand (with 40% of the market by value), he is happy to leverage its brand collateral to build the fast growing premium Tawny category yet further.  Expect a follow on to Very Old (1850s) Tawny Taylor’s Scion too.

With Graham’s Diamond Jubilee 1952 Colheita, now new 1982 Commemorative Bottling to celebrate the birth of HRH Prince George of Cambridge, the Symingtons are similarly alive to the anniversary/commemorative possibilities presented by Colheitas.

Perhaps we’ll start seeing 21-year-old Tawnies before too long… Meantime, I was most impressed with Alves de Sousa’s newly launched 20-year-old Tawny, which marks another growing and very welcome trend, the injection of new blood into premium Port production.

Here are my notes on the Ports:

Kopke 375 1940 Colheita

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Despite being aged for 73 years in a 580l oak barrel, this is a youthful, perfectly mellifluous Colheita with a vanilla (sweet bourbon, milk chocolate) and honey “edged” dried fig and date palate.  Lovely depth to its hazelnut brittle torrefaction too, its sweetness ever so deftly balanced by more savoury café crème, spicy chutney and tamarind notes.  The finish is long and silky – beautifully balanced, with exemplary spirit integration.  Outstanding (cask sample tasted October, finished article tasted December). Each bottle comes in a wooden case of rosewood, with black on the inside and with golden printing. C. 680€.

Taylor’s 1964 Colheita (cask sample)

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A light mahogany (rather than tawny) hue signposts its maturity (50 years old is too young to speak of age!).  With great line and length, a liveliness even, it’s exceptionally poised – how very Taylor’s!  The palate is soft, sweet and demerara smooth with nutty amaretto biscuit, walnuts, chocolate orange, dried fig and balancing sweet and sour tamarind spice and caramelised fennel notes.  Very good indeed.  RRP £150 a bottle.  Around 3000 bottles will be available on release in January 2014.

Graham’s Colheita 1982 Commemorative Bottling to celebrate the birth of HRH Prince George of Cambridge

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Sourced from six casks from the year of Prince George’s parents’ birth. And the Port is as big a mouthful as its (HRH) title.  Tasted from a very cute 20cl sample bottle over five days, it sang fulsomely and most sweetly, revealing a generous helping of caramelised oranges, barley-sugar, buttery macademia nuts and dried apricots.  Belying the baby fat, the finish is long, finely tuned and seriously nutty, with a lick of liquorice and sweet cinnamon spice.  Very good. £90 at The Wine Society.

Alves de Sousa Quinta da Gaivosa 20-year-old Tawny

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Tasted over three days, this sophisticated Tawny is quite a leap from the fruitier 10-year-old.   It’s tremendously nutty, long and fine, with great woody timbre and smoky resonance to its dried stone fruit and amaretto-nuanced palate.  Very good balancing freshness betrays its Regua roots.  An impressive debut.

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  1. Moses

    Gaivosa sounds awesome. They have an impressive & beautifully situated Quinta, make one of the best white ports available, along with iconic dry DOC wines, and lovely tawny. Very hard to find in most US markets.

    • sarah

      Yes, disappeared v quickly at Boxing Day lunch passing the ultimate test with flying colours! Agree the white Port is very good. Thanks Moses and hope they get better distributed over there. Best Sarah

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