Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Colheita Port

I spent the past week eating and drinking my way through Porto and the Douro in northern Portugal. There were so many wonderful wines, from still white and red Douro wines to the famous and historical Ports, both ruby and tawny. But at each and every tasting, the one wine that stole my heart was the Colheita and that is why it is the Please the Palate Pick of the week.

Port can be ruby or tawny. Ruby Ports, whether young, reserve, LBV or vintage, tend to be more fruit driven as they do not age in oak. A tawny port is a port that is aged in wood so that oxygen flows through resulting in the loss of color and the development of different flavors. Tawny Port is available in 10 Year, 20 Year, 30 Year, 40 Year and Colheita, an aged Tawny Port made with grapes from a single vintage.

“Colheita” means “harvest” in Portuguese. Colheitas are required by law to mature in wooden casks for at least seven years, although it can be much longer. The wine is bottled when the producer feels it is ready to drink.

The first Colheita I tried this week was Porto Cálem Colheita 1961. Porto Cálem was founded in 1859 by António Alves Cálem and in 1998 joined Sogevinus Fine Wines. The 1961 Colheita wine is a golden brown color with green copper edges, reflecting the age of the wine. On the nose, and the palate, the wine has notes of nuts, almonds, coffee and butterscotch. While I was diligently spitting the wines during the wine tasting, I could not spit this one and instead finished it. This wine retails for approximately $197.

The second Colheita I tried during the week was the Porto Reccua Colheita 2005. Porto Reccua produces wines from grapes from the cooperative Caves Vale do Rodo. This Colheita is young with only 12 years of age but I really enjoyed the freshness and acidity that balance the orange peel and nutty aromas. This wine is also rather affordable at approximately $20.

The final Colheita of my trip and the one that truly stole my heart was the Grahams Colheita 1972. Founded in 1820 and acquired by the Symington Family in 1970, the Symington’s selected 1972 as their first single harvest for ageing in seasoned oak casks. Current head winemaker Charles Symington selected nine casks of the 1972 vintage for bottling and a limited number are currently available for approximately $220. Rui Ribeiro, Marketing Manager for Symington Family Estates explained to me that when tawny port reaches 40-50 years of age, in many ways it becomes a baby again because after evaporation has occurred, what is left is more intense. And this Grahams Colheita 1972 was a stand out. It has fresh flavors of caramelized sugar and caramelized orange. It is rich and intense and coats the tongue. The wine has firm acidity and a full mouth feel.

At 45 years of age, the Grahams Colheita 1972 wine leaves a lasting impression and sealed the deal when it comes to my love for Colheita Ports, the Please The Palate pick of the week.