The charm of the port

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Unveiling the Portuguese port: expert Hannah Wilkins takes us on a swift journey through the Ruby and Tawny fortified wines of the Douro Valley

When it comes to wine, there’s a jewel in the Douro Valley of Portugal that never fails to dazzle the palate: Port. While the big names like Graham’s, Taylor’s, Fonseca, and Warres may be synonymous with fortified wine, we have an array of hidden gems on our shelves.
As the leaves begin to turn, I thought I’d dedicate this column to the enchanting world of Ruby and Tawny ports, a world where dark grapes reign supreme.

Really ruby
Ruby port is a rich ruby elixir with an intoxicating bouquet of raspberries, blackberries, hints of cinnamon and luscious chocolate. Ruby Port comes in various delightful forms:
Ruby: a sweet and fruity blend, perfect for immediate indulgence.
Reserve Ruby: a premium choice which is meant to be savoured young.
LBV (Late Bottled Vintage): aged for over four years to deepen its character.
Vintage: a rare gem, crafted from a declared year, destined for graceful ageing.
Single Quinta: a distinguished offering from a carefully selected vineyard estate.

Totally tawny
As its name suggests, Tawny port has a captivating tawny or lush brown hue. This style teases the senses with aromas of dried fruits, nutty nuances, hints of caramel, and subtle whispers of coffee. Tawny ports come in a range of earthy expressions:
Tawny: aged for two years to maintain a delightful balance.
Tawny with an age indication 10 Year old: a blend of vintages with at least a decade of barrel ageing, graced with just a hint of cinnamon.
20 year old: a harmonious blend of vintages aged for at least two decades, where caramel meets cinnamon.
30 year old: a masterpiece of vintages aged for a minimum of three decades, yielding a symphony of nuttiness, butterscotch, and caramel.
Colheita: port born from a single harvest year, it is typically released after a decade of ageing.

If you have it, drink it
A burning question often arises: how long does port stay fresh once opened? Tawny port, a warm embrace for the occasional after-dinner sipper, can linger for one to two months. Ruby port maintains its vibrancy for a maximum of a month. But a Vintage port, the jewel of the collection, demands prompt attention – enjoy the bottle within a couple of days as exposure to oxygen swiftly alters its character.
As winter approaches, we invite you to explore the magic of port with us. Warm up a chilly day with a tasting session at Vineyards and let us regale you with tales of these enchanting wines. We always have a port or two open for you to try!

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