Vintage Port

Many think of Port as a drink for old British men sitting in high-back leather chairs with a cigar in hand. But Port, which comes from Oporto in the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal, is a fortified wine that comes in a vast range of styles (and prices), making it something that we all can enjoy with dessert or a plate of cheese.

But it’s when we taste Vintage Port that we realize what an exceptional product we have found.

For most of us, it is common that the first Port we try is a Ruby Port. Perhaps it was served with a piece of chocolate cake or a sliver of blue cheese. The simplest style and named for its ruby color, Ruby Ports are fruit forward and meant to be drunk young and fresh. If you enjoyed that Ruby Port, you may have stepped up a level and enjoyed a Reserve Ruby Port, which spends more time in cask, or a Late Bottled Vintage Port made with grapes from a single vintage and aged in oak for 4-6 years. Both styles are a dark ruby color and fruit forward, but have more structure than a basic Ruby Port.

As our Port palates develop, it is natural to move from Ruby Ports to Tawny Ports. After spending more time in large oak casks than Ruby Port, Tawny Port oxidizes, changing the color to a “tawny” (reddish-orange) color. The flavor is slightly sweeter with notes of nuttiness, caramelized figs, dates and prunes. Whether a Colheita Port (made from grapes from the same vintage and aged in small used oak barrels) or an Indicated Age Tawny Port (ports that are blends of many years with average ages of at least 10, 20, 30 or 40 years old), Tawny Ports are ideal with aged cheddar cheese, apple pie, crème caramel, dried fruit (apricots), pumpkin or pecan pie.

But then there is Vintage Port. “Vintage Port is the crème de la crème. It is so sublime, almost life-changing. Once you try one, you will understand,” explained Peter Scott, president of Premium Port Wines, the North American importer for the Symington Family Estates of Portugal.

Read the complete story in the Napa Valley Register.