Tawny, Port's mellow fellow
Liam Campbell tackles some of Port's most aged Tawnies.
Port, the pride of Portugal, has a fiery heart of alcohol at 20pc with its seduction sheathed in sweetness. Port's vineyards teeter on the steep, terraced slopes of the granitic mountainous and meandering Douro River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site. All port is naturally sweet and either vintage from a single year, or blended from several vintages. Their differing styles depend on how many years the wines age in barrel before bottling and release from the winery or adega.
Tawny port derives its name from the faded amber colour resulting from years maturing in cask. The purple colour and astringent tannins connect and become solid, falling from the wine as sediment. The barrel's oak adds a spiciness to the sweet dried fruit character. Premium tawnies have 10 or 20 "years aging" on the label, indicating the average number of years aged in cask. These beauties are spicier with an added nuttiness to the caramel sweetness, and remain fresh within a month of opening. Serve chilled with blue cheese, fruit cake or nuts.
1) Aged 20 Years Tawny Port, (Bottled 2014), Graham's 20pc
Aged since vintages around 1994, intense spiced peppery palate with dates and nutmeg wrapped in a silky texture shrouding the alcohol.
€54.99 at Mitchell & Sons, Dublin; Celtic Whiskey Shop, Dublin; Cashel Wine Cellar, Tipperary; O'Sullivan's Off-Licence, Cork; Bradley's Off Licence, Cork; Holland's Off-Licence, Bray.
2) "Otima" Aged 10 Years Tawny Port, (Bottled 2013), Warre's 20pc
The rich nectar seeps through the woody spiciness keeping the alcohol in check and finishes with sultanas and spicy cloves.
€25.99 50cl at The Malthouse, Trim; Number 21, Cork; and Supervalu nationwide. In Dublin, at Drinkstore, Stoneybatter and On The Grapevine, Dalkey.
3) Aged 10 Years Tawny Port, Quinta do Infantado (Bottled 2012), 19.5pc
Powerful and concentrated flavours of dried orange peel and cinnamon, finishing with all-spice.
€21.99 375ml at Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3.
4) Aged 10 Years Tawny Port, (Bottled 2011), Barao de Vilar 20pc
Lovely satin texture unfurling sweet, plump sultana fruit contrasted with nutmeg and white pepper.
€21.89 50cl at mitchellandson.com; Country Choice, Nenagh; Myles Doyle, Gorey; Mitchell & Son, Glasthule and CHQ.
5) Aged 10 Years Tawny Port, (Bottled 2012), Smith Woodhouse 20pc
Figs and dates spiked with nutmeg reveal a palate with power and polish.
€29.99 at O'Brien's Fine Wine shops nationwide and wine.ie
6) Aged 10 Years Tawny Port, (Bottled 2013), Dow's 20pc
Exotic bouquet of dates and sandalwood. Delicious, well-woven nutmeg and cinnamon into the rich raisin fruit.
€24.25 Tindalwine.com; McCambridge's, Galway; Next Door, Myles Creek, Kilkee; and 1601, Kinsale. In Dublin, Searson's, Monkstown and Gibney's, Malahide.