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Sep 21, 2007 04:45 PM

Which one of these Port Wines is sweetest and cheapest?

I had some of this wine and now I think I am going to become a wino! :) SO good!

Anyway, a friend said I probably had one of these:

Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port
Graham's 20 Year Old Tawny Port
Taylor Fladgate 20 Year-old Tawny
Graham's Vintage Port 1994

Which one tastes sweetest and what are the price ranges and is there a place I can buy them at decent prices in Los Angeles? If they are expensive can you recommend "knock offs" is such a thing exists (I know anything about wine). Does Trade Joe's sell port wine?

Thank you!

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  1. the six grape and the vintage will be sweeter. The six grape should run less than $20. the 94 quite a bit more. as a general rule if you want a sweet port, look for a late harvest.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chazzerking

      Thank you! How will I know it's a late harvest? By the date on the wine? *blushes*

      1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

        I think chazzerking meant late harvest (e.g. Zinfandel) *instead* of Port. They're normally shelved in the dessert wine section, and usually labeled "late harvest."

        You want sweet, try white Port.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I was actually referring to late bottled not late harvest

    2. I agree that the perception of “sweetness” will go to the Graham’s Six Grape, which is their “branded” Ruby and a big seller. I often have a bottle, or two, around for just sitting and sipping.

      Graham’s & Taylor 20 Tawny are a totally different breed of Port. They are aged in wood for an average of 20 years and do not even look like the Six Grape - they are NOT like the Six Grape, other than they started with about the same varietals, as it did.

      Graham’s VP ‘94 is another, very different animal. It is closer to the Six Grape in construction, but totally unlike it in all other respects. The ‘94 vintage was a great one - maybe on par with the ‘63. I tasted the Taylor, Fonseca, Dow, Crotf’s and Grahams, when released, and bought the Taylor & Fonseca. Shortly, they were awarded the co-Wine of the Year, by WS, and awarde 100 pts. each. The Graham’s was good though. As a house-style, Graham’s is a tad sweeter, than the others, but only slightly.

      Of the wines listed, try the Sandeman’s Founder’s Reserve against the Six Grape. They are similar, being the house’s “branded Ruby.” The price-point will be similar.

      Against the Tawnies, try Cockburn’s (lighter and bit more “spirity,” and the Porto Barros 20 year. The Taylor 20 is my #1 Tawny, even over their 30 & 40 year Tawny, at double and triple the price. For food pairings, I always go to Tawnies, as I find that VPs are best alone, or nearly so, AS dessert. Tawnies are a better "cigar Port," than are the more nuanced VPs.

      When it comes to VP, there are no substitutes. There are other houses, that will have differences, but within a declared vintage, you are not going to find many “deals.”

      There was a recent thread on this board that covered the differences of Port wines. Do a search of this board, and you will likely discover some major threads, with more detail, than you are likely to want right now. Bookmark it, as you might want to refer to it later, when you’ve explored the world of Port to a greater degree.

      You might want to explore the” nether world” of port-styled wines, both domestic and many from OZ. There are some good wines from each, though they ARE different. Since you mentioned Port (Porto), I will not bore you with any recs. there.



      5 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        I have only one (minor) correction to this otherwise excelent and informative post . . .

        "Six Grapes" is actually Graham's branded name for their Vintage Character Porto. They still produce a "straight" Rudy.

        Now we can split hairs, because a Vintage Character Porto IS technically a Ruby, too, but so is a Vintage Porto . . .

        If the OP is looking for CHEAP, get a straight Ruby. If the OP wants some quality and complexity in their Ruby, get a Vitnage Character . . .

        1. re: zin1953

          Thank you both for the great, informative replies. After I posted this I did do a search and did some research online. These suckers can be expensive! I l found this thread - very informative.

          Can I buy any of these at the grocery store or do I have to go to a wine or liquor store? Thank again.

          1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

            Von's, Gelson's, Trader Joes, BevMo, and every decent wine store in LA will have some or all of these . . . .

            1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

              Not knowing exactly where you are, and then I would probably not know the grocery stores in your area, I'd venture that you will be able to find Porto (usually an introductory level Ruby or Tawny), and also port-styled wines from US & OZ. Try these and see how you feel about them.

              Next, find a good wine shop. The selections should be much greater - maybe even an entire room of Portos, Madeiras and some Sherries. Do not be overwhelmed at the volumn. There are many layers of price range, even within the Rubies (and, as Jason points out, the Vintage Character Ports).

              Same with the Tawnies. A 10 Year from Graham's, Cockburn's, Taylor or Fonseca will run you within a few $ of each other. Then the price jumps up for all these producers' 20 Year. Price again increases with 30 Year, and, if you can even find it, the 40 Year.

              When you get to Vintage Port, the differences will be between the houses and the actual vintage. None will be cheap, but you'll also find that lower-tier producers' VP, from a less-than-stellar year, can still be very, very good. Because Port can age well for decades, hold onto your eyeballs, if you come across a bottle of, say Taylor '63, '55, '48 or '32.

              AND this does not even take into consideration other Ports like LBV [Late Bottled Vintage] and Colheita [vintage dated Tawny]. Some of the other threads go into a bit more detail, so there is plenty of reading ahead, if you really want to get into the world of Port.

              Just a general discussion could yield a book, and has actually done just that - many times over. In some of them, I quoted from about 3 of my 13 books on Port. I think that Jason, Robert and probably Carswell did similar, plus several others weighed in with good and interesting thoughts. When you ask a knowlegable friend or wine merchant to "tell me about Port," the first response should be, "how much time do you have?" I've had far too many instances where someone wanted me to "tell them about Port," and by the second course, their eyes usually glaze over. Heck, I have not even scratched the surface by then. There's still about 4 hours left, and this is the heavily abstracted form of the lecture...

              Do not forget to experience the other aspect - port-styled wines. There are many very enjoyable ones out there, and they can make a great counter-point to a tasting of Ports. As has been mentioned, the LH [Late Harvest] wines can be close to port-style - depends on the grape, the producer and their intent. If possible, try an LH Zin and an LH Cab, to get the idea.

              NOTE: some folk use the name Porto (protected by the EU now), while others just capatilize the name Port. In the US, and by many non-US, but also non-EU producers, the name Port is also used. It can be very confusing, until one gets a handle on it. I go the capitalization route, and note "port-style" for non-Portugese wines that can be somewhat similar. Just remember that all Porto (or Port in my case) comes from a small area in Northern Portugal, and is very, very heavily regulated. Many steps must be taken, before the wine can be called Porto/Port.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                One version of an outline (hard to do when you can't use tabs) of Porto would look something like this. Keep in mind, by the way, that there are many different ways to do this outline; also, this applied only to real Porto.

                1. Ruby Porto -- red Porto wines bottled with less than seven years of wood aging.
                1a. No indication of age.
                1a1. True Ruby Porto, bottled very young.
                1a2. Vintage Character Porto.
                1a3. Crusted Porto.
                1b. Ruby Ports with a Vintage date.
                1b1. Late Bottled Vintage Porto
                1b1a. Tradtional, unfined, unfiltered.
                1b1b. "Regular."
                1b2. Vintage Porto.
                1b2a. True Vintage Porto.
                1b2b. Single-quinta Vintage Porto.

                2. Tawny Porto -- red Porto wines bottled with 7+ years of wood aging.
                2a. No indication of age.
                2a1. Young Tawny (often a mix of Ruby and Tawny).
                2a2. True Tawny Porto.
                2a3. Tawny Reserva, a usually branded bottling of Tawny Porto that is "older" than the "true" Tawny Porto.
                2b. With a general indication of age.
                2b1. 10-Year Tawny Porto.
                2b2. 20-Year Tawny Porto.
                2b3. 30-Year Tawny Porto.
                2b4. 40-Year Tawny Porto.
                2c. With a specific indication of age.
                2c1. Colheita Porto.
                2c2. Garrafeira Porto.

                3. White Porto.
                3a. Bottled young.
                3a1. Dry.
                3a2. Sweet.
                3b. Bottled after 7+ years of wood aging.
                3b1. Dry.
                3b2. Sweet.

                * * * * *

                This is off the top of my head, and I may have left something out . . .

        2. My go to everyday port is RL Buller Australian Tawny, Parker rated 91, about $12 a 750ml bottle in the NY Metro area. From the above 10 year tawny tends to be sweeter, while 20 year tawny is woodier and 10 year is, give or take, half the price. Most of the known name brand 10 years are in the $25 - $30 range.

          1. Ok. I finally got a Fonseca Porto (BIN #27 says it was rated 88th) at Costco today. I have not tried it yet, but I am looking forward to it. It was $12.99 I think. I have $25 to spend on another bottle. I will get another kind maybe from trader joes and report back.

            7 Replies
            1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

              With Costco in the equation, I'd opt for spending the $25 on a bottle of Cockburn's 20 Year Tawny, if your has it. A different wine in all respects, but excellent. I match this with cheeses and a few walnuts before dessert.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Ok, Bill - will do! Thanks.

                Another crazy question... Some bottles say "ready to drink now!" Are there some bottles that I can buy that aren't ready to drink now?

                1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                  Not even the FBI's elite HRT will kick in your front door for opening up a bottle that's not ready to drink, but OF COURSE you can buy wines in generally (and Porto, in particular) that is not yet ready to drink.

                  Will it kill you to drink it now? No, of course not. Will such a wine be much better in five, ten, 20 or even 50 years? Yup . . . with the exact figure of how long the wine will mature (age) in the bottle conditional upon the specific wine and specific vintage.

                  Some Ports are ready to drink now. These are [almost] always non-vintage Ruby and Tawny Ports. Vintage Porto, Late Bottled Vintage Porto (especially those labeled "traditional" or "unfiltered"), non-vintage Crusted Porto, Colheita Tawny Porto, and even some non-vintage Vintage Character Ports will all mature with additional bottle age.

                  It all depends upon the style you enjoy . . .

                  1. re: zin1953

                    I see. I have noticed there are different kinds. The one I tasted at my friends house(that made me start this thread) was nothing like the Fonseca Porto or the Harris LBV porto. I remember it was a brownish color and these are purely red in color. Or maybe I am imagining this.

                    Also I am just curious if anyone has tried both the Harris 2000 Porto and the Fonseca Porto Bin 27, which one they liked the best. I have my thoughts but what to see what people more in the know think.


                    What Costo have you seen that Cockburn's 20 Year Tawny? I went to the Inglewood and the Washington/Lincoln one and neither had it.

                    I'm loving learning about this wine. You should have seem me busting out the facts (what I have learned from this thread and wikipedia) about port wines, I could tell my friends were shocked and impressed. :)

                    1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                      >>> I remember it was a brownish color and these are purely red in color. Or maybe I am imagining this. <<<

                      No, you didn't. You were just drinking two different types of Porto (if they were drinking a Porto at all). Fonseca Bin 27 Porto is a true Porto (i.e.: from the Douro region of Portugal). It is a "Vintage Character" Port and, as such, is classified as a type of Ruby Porto. When you say "Harris 2000 Porto," I am presuming you mean Quarrels Harris 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Porto; is that right? An LBV Porto spends between 4-6 years aging in wood prior to being bottled and, again, is a type of Ruby Porto (in the grand scheme of things).

                      There is another type of Porto: Tawny. (O.K., there are many dfferent types, but bear with me here.)

                      Ruby. Tawny. These names describe the color. One is "purely red," while the other is "a brownish color." Your friends were drinking a Tawny Porto, not a Ruby Porto.

                      OR . . . .

                      It may also be possible that they were not drinking a true Porto at all, but an Australian Tawny -- like Hardy's "Whiskers Blake," Yulumba's "Clocktower," or another offering from one of Australia's many producers of fortified wines. These are quite tasty and very reasonable in price.

                    2. re: zin1953

                      It all depends upon the style you enjoy . . .

                      . . . and how old you are and age expectancy.

                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                    Bin 27 and Cockburn's 20 ... its like night and day ... black and white ... well, you get the point.

                2. I can tell you which one ISNT the cheapest.... the Grahams Vintage 1994