Posts Tagged Tawny Port

Four port wines that offer great value for money

Maynard’s, Krohn, Kopke and Offley; 10-year-old tawny ports

First published in the Irish Times, Saturday, 30th November, 2019.

There can be few nicer things than sitting down in front of a fire, or cuddled up on the sofa, with a glass of warming, sweet fortified wine on a cold winter’s evening. A mince pie, a slice of Christmas cake completes the scene. Or, if like me your tastes are more savoury, a hunk of blue cheese, a few walnuts and some crackers. Either way, it creates a sense of hygge (Scandinavians love port but prefer Glogg or mulled wine) and provides a barrier to the cold outside. So, this Christmas make sure you have a bottle of something decent to hand. I will take a look at dry fortified wines next week, this week tawny port. A fortified wine is simply a wine that has been boosted by the addition of some grape brandy. This is done during fermentation and kills the yeasts off, leaving a naturally sweet wine.

Port has moved away from the images of crusty gout-ridden colonels sitting in their club sipping a glass of vintage port. A new generation of wine drinkers see it as something to enjoy with food. These days tawny port is more often drunk lightly chilled with a dessert or as an aperitif or even with savoury dishes.

Vintage and late-bottled vintage port are aged in the bottle, whereas tawny matures in barrel for periods of up to 40 years. Younger tawny port, such as 10-year-old still retains some ripe sweet fruits. As it ages in barrel port becomes nuttier and woodier.

The age statement is an average age; a 10-year-old will be a blend of various wines ranging from five to 15 years old. A Colheita tawny port is from a single vintage. All tawny comes ready-aged, and doesn’t need decanting.

Although we are happy to drink sweet soft drinks and medium-dry appassimento wines, some wine drinkers feel port is too sweet or too high in alcohol. The quality of all ports across the range is higher than ever. All four wines below offer great value for money, and would make a great Christmas present too. Aldi’s Maynards 10-year-old is an amazing bargain.

You can of course enjoy tawny port alongside sweet treats such as fruit cake and mince pies, but it also goes very well with pecan pie and walnut tart. I suspect it might go well with rich eggy pasteis de nata too. On the savoury side I have also enjoyed it with chicken liver parfait and firm cheeses. At the table, tawny certainly tastes so much better if served lightly chilled, in proper wine glasses too. Why not try it out this Christmas?

Maynard’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Maynard’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port

Maynard’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port
20%, €13.99
A rich complex Port with sultanas, raisins, hazelnuts and milk chocolate. Perfect with fruit cake, chocolate desserts or even a box of chocolates.
From Aldi,

Krohn 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Krohn 10 Year Old Tawny Port

Krohn 10 Year Old Tawny Port
20%, €27.50
A delicious warming fruit-filled port with sweet plums, dried fruits, a light woodiness and good acidity to stop it cloying. One to dip into over Christmas.
From Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown,

Kopke 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Kopke 10 Year Old Tawny Port

Kopke 10 Year Old Tawny Port
20%, €30
Concentrated dried and candied fruits with toasted walnuts and a whiff of old wood. Perfect on its own, or with chocolate brownies.
From Ely 64, Glasthule,; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork,; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3; Lilliput Stores, Dublin 7,; Worldwide Wines, Waterford,

Offley Ten Year Old Tawny Port

Offley Ten Year Old Tawny Port
20%, €34.99
Some rich damson fruits alongside the grilled hazelnuts, dried citrus peel and butterscotch. Not too sweet, and a lovely glass of wine. With chicken liver parfait, pecan pie or Christmas cake.
From The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork,; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2,; Donnybrook Fair,; Terroirs, Dublin 4,; Thomas’s of Foxrock; The Wine Centre, Kilkenny,;

Posted in: Irish Times

Leave a Comment (0) →

Port is not just for Christmas

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday October 15th, 2016

When you think of port, do images of fusty old colonels, and posh Downton-style dinner parties come to mind? Or maybe mince pies and roaring fires? Not the kind of images that are likely to appeal to a generation of new wine drinkers. Yet port has been enjoying huge growth in the US over the past decade – but a very different kind of port and with a much younger audience.

This time it is aged tawny port, served chilled, and with a whole range of dishes; cheese of course, but also with many desserts and even with fish and meat main courses. Tawny port doesn’t require decanting and will keep for a few weeks once opened. One export manager I talked to had arranged for massive double magnums of 20-year-old tawny port to be plonked on the bar in restaurants and bistros and then challenged sommeliers to pour from it, creating a bit of fun and theatre. Another sales manager told me: “Tawny port has got barmen and sommeliers back to playing with port again.”

Tawny port is aged for long periods in barrels – sometimes up to 100 years or more – at International Port Day recently, I tasted a tawny dating back to the 1860s. It develops a burnished pale brown colour and flavours of toasted nuts, figs and caramel. Ten-year-old is good (all ages are average) but 20-, 30- and even 40- year-old tawny can be sublime.

Also in fashion is white port, this time mixed with tonic water. Mix two parts tonic to one part port, add plenty of ice, and a slice or two of orange or lime or a sprig of mint. A very refreshing cocktail, the sweetness of the port working perfectly with the dry tonic.

Many port companies have started making red and white table wines in the Douro Valley (the birthplace of port) too, something unheard of in the past; already this accounts for 30 per cent of production.

Can they take all this innovation too far? Well, I found it difficult to like the Croft Pink Port (yes, rosé port) but apparently it is going down a bomb in SuperValu at the moment, so who am I to disagree?

I still have a great love of bottle-aged ports, with their dark damson fruits. A late bottled vintage is less expensive and requires no decanting, but possibly the best value lies in single quinta ports, made in years not quite good enough for a vintage declaration. Taylos Quinta de Vargellas (€64.95, the Corkscrew) is one of the best, but there is plenty of choice.

Whatever port you decide to drink, serve it in a decent wine glass; those tiny little schooners do no favours to any wine, port included.

ImageNiepoort Dry White Port

Toasted nuts and herbs with a rich finish. Serve with tonic water.

64 Wine; Red Island; McHugh’s; Redmond’s; Corkscrew; Jus de Vine; Martin’s; Clontarf Wines; Liston’s; Grapevine; Blackrock Cellar; Morton’s Ranelagh

DSCF6993Taylors LBV Port 2011

Rich, sweet plum fruits, dark chocolate, some Christmas cake spice, liquorice and a finish that is attractively savoury and long.

Stockists: Widely available including Corkscrew; Le Caveau; Bradley’s, Cork.

Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port

Graham's 20yo TawnyFigs, raisins and caramel with a twist of orange peel.

Stockists: Mitchells; Clontarf Wines; The Parting Glass, Enniskerry.

Posted in: Irish Times

Leave a Comment (0) →