Posts Tagged Taylor’s Port

Wine: Four ports to try as autumn begins to bite

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 22nd September, 2018

Do you drink port every Christmas and ignore it the rest of the year – even though you love it? Or do you blame it for that hangover, conveniently forgetting prior consumption of alcohol earlier in the evening? Port has successfully moved on from our image of crusty old colonels swigging a glass in the library.

Nowadays, you are more likely to find younger diners trying a chilled Tawny with their dessert, drinking a long summery cocktail made with white Port, or even sipping a glass of iced pink (rosé) port. Not only that, the Douro Valley, where all port grapes are grown, now produces very good red and white table wines too. I feature one below.

However, as autumn begins to bite, there are few things more warming and comforting, than a glass of port with a few hunks of cheese, a handful of walnuts, or possibly a few squares of dark chocolate.

The big daddy of them all is vintage port, made, as the name suggests, with wine the very best wines from one single excellent year. A port house tends to declare a vintage roughly every five years. In the intervening period, a producer may release single quinta ports, made from one single vineyard in a good but not outstanding vintage. Single quinta port can offer great value; it is often a match for vintage port, drinking earlier, but often lasting for an equally long period.


Vintage port matures and improves for decades (I am still working on my 1970 and 1977 Fonseca); it is therefore the ideal gift for a godchild, child, or any other young relative – or as a wedding present. You can be pretty sure good vintage port will last as long as they do. If you neglected to buy your godchild some port, there are still plenty of vintage ports available, provided the recipient, were born in the right year. I can vouch for the wonderful, elegant Taylor’s Vintage 2007 (€145) and the hedonistic lush, spicy Fonseca 2009 (€155). Both can be drunk now or at any time over the next two decades, and should be available from the same stockists as the Taylor’s below.

Chris Forbes, of the Taylor Fladgate group, visited Ireland earlier this month, showing three 2016 vintage ports. I would love to have a few bottles of Taylor’s or Fonseca in my cellar. Tawny port is aged in barrel (as opposed to bottle for vintage ports) and therefore needs no decanting. Try it chilled with desserts, or hard cheeses such as Manchego, and Parmesan. If decanting bothers you, maybe you should invest in a Coravin, which will allow you to withdraw a glass of mature vintage port without opening the bottle – restaurants please take note!

100 Hectares Touriga Nacional 2016, Douro
14%, €18.95
Very stylish ripe youthful powerful black forest fruits, with nice grip and real length. Decant before serving. Confit duck with some creamy mashed potatoes.
From La Touche, Greystones,; Donnybrook Fair,; Harold’s Cross, D6; Fresh Outlets,; Nectar Wines, Sandymount; The Corkscrew, Chatham Street,; Liston’s, Camden St.,; The Wine Shop, Perrystown; The Wine Well, Dunboyne

Taylor’s Limited Edition Reserve Tawny Port NV
20%, €55 for a litre bottle
Mature figs, nuts and orange peel mingle with fresher cherry and blackcurrant fruits. Serve cool or lightly chilled with pâtés, firm cheeses, or rich cakes and puddings.
From O’Donovan’s, Cork,; Clontarf Wines,; Green Man Wines, Terenure,; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock,; Kelly’s, Clontarf,; Terroirs, Donnybrook,; Gibney’s, Malahaide,; Le Caveau, Kilkenny,; MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk,; McHughs, Kilbarrack Road & Malahide Rd.,; Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne,; O’Briens,; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3,;

Fonseca Quinta do Panascal 2001, Single Quinta Port
20.5%, €45
Smooth and rich, with an explosion of figs, walnuts and pure damson fruits edged with spice. With any firm or blue cheese.
From Jus de Vine, Portmarnock,; Kelly’s, Clontarf,; Martin’s Off Licence, Clontarf,; O’Donovan’s, Cork,; Grape & Grain, Leopardstown,; Grenham’s, Ballinasloe; The Vineyard, Belfast,

Taylor’s Vintage Port 2016
22%, €95
Supremely elegant  with wonderful pure damson and blackcurrant fruits, good acidity, and plenty of tannic structure. Deceptively drinkable now, but you should really keep it for 10-30 years.
From Jus de Vine, Portmarnock,; Kelly’s, Clontarf,; Gibney’s, Malahaide,; Clontarf Wines,; Blake’s Fine Wines, Derrylin,

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) →

Three Centuries of Wine

I was lucky enough to get an invite to a tasting spanning three centuries, part of International Port Day. A great day overall, with lots of brilliant Ports (aged white Port is my new thing) and some lovely people. A fascinating talk from Heini Zachariassen, CEO of Vivino – 31k new members daily, 100k new wine reviews every day – who knew?

This was a great tasting, memorable wines, no real duds, starting with Dow’s Vintage 2011, through Noval Nacional 1996 finishing with a very old, but very alive Port from the 1860’s produced by Bulas, who also had their (very good) current wines there on tasting. My overall favourite was the Kopke Colheita Branco (or white Port) from 1935. Amazingly fresh lively wine. To be continued, but a few pics below.





And, lest we forget, the most beautiful vineyards in the world – the Douro Valley. This shows Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas.

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →