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Nov 21, 2007 06:36 AM

Tawny Port

We have limited exposure to tawny port. We have tried both the 10 and 20 year old Taylor Fladgate, and like both wines. Any suggestions for others that we would like? Are most of the others similar, or are their notable differences that we would notice?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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  1. True Tawny Porto comes in three categories:

    a) with no age statement at all, and relatively inexpensive (some are actually blends of Ruby and White; but a true Tawny Porto must spend at least seven years in wood prior to bottling);

    b) those with a rough indication of age (10-Year, 20-Year, 30-Year, and 40-Year);

    c) Tawny Porto from a single harvest, i.e.: Colheita Porto.

    To MY taste, I tend to enjoy 10's and 20's (older than that and, to my taste, they are often too woody and lose too much fruit), but Colheitas are sublime. But they can be quite expensive. I would first explore other 10- and 20-Year Tawnies and discover the other flavors and characters found in the offerings from other producers. I'd look for producers like Barros, Neipoort, and Noval (to name but three). Taylor is quite good, but I confess I prefer these three.

    For inexpensive Tawnies, I actually prefer the Tawnies from Australia -- wines such as Hardy's "Whiskers' Blake" or Yalumba's "Clocktower" -- to the "true" low-end Tawny Porto . . . except for cooking. Then I use true Porto.

    Colheitas are a very long and complex story, best saved for another time (when I'm not rushing off to work).


    3 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      I'm so embarrased -- how could I forget my FAVORITE Tawny?!?!?! (Easy. I was rushing off to work.)

      The Ferreira 20 Year Tawny Port 'Duque de Bragança' is outstanding!

      1. re: zin1953

        I will look for it. I see WHWC has the Ferreira 10 Year Tawny Port - Quinta do Porto. Have you tried the 10 yr and do you reccomend it?

        1. re: scrappydog

          It's good, but the 20 is magical . . .

          For 10-Year Tawnies, I prefer the Noval, the Niepoort, and the Barros. For 20s, Ferriera and Barros.

    2. Nothing's better with pumpkin pie/souffle/cheesecake than a glass of 20-year-old tawny port.

      My sense is that it takes 20 years, not 10, for tawny to develop the depth of caramel, toasted nut and dried fruit flavors that make it deliciously wonderful. I'm particularly fond of the Rozes and the Ramos-Pinto. The Fonseca 20, Delaforce 20 and Graham's 30 are also very good.

      Other pairings: any bread pudding/cake/tart/bar with dried fruit, toasted nuts or caramel. And peanut butter cookies.

      1 Reply
      1. re: maria lorraine

        I know I can find the Fonseca and Graham's Tawny port locally. I will have to look around and try to find some of the others.

      2. Along with Jason's post, I'd suggest looking into these:
        Cockburns 20 year - probably the lightest and most "spirity" of the 20 year Tawnies
        Graham's - usually a tad sweeter, than the Taylors
        Barros 20 year - great nuttiness (usually pecans). Similar body to Taylor, but different enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor
        Fonseca 20 year (same ownership as Taylor, but different in flavors)

        For me, the 20 year Tawnies are the epitome. I find 10's very nice, but the aspects of the wine just come together better (for me) with the 20's. I'm also with Jason on the 30's & 40's. I enjoy them, but not so much as the 20's. They are also quite expensive and not worth the $ for me. I will have them, on occasion, but do 20's about 90% of the time.

        As an aside, I find that Tawnies compliment food more than Vintage Ports do. Now, do not get me wrong. I love VPs, but more often by themselves AS dessert.


        6 Replies
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          I don't know how easy this is going to be to find, but our favorite wine store got us onto a 20 yr old Tawny from Oz called Burge. It is by far our favorite, kicks butt on the Taylor & Grahams IMO runs about $53 up here (Canada). There is also an inexpensive Tawny called Old Cave by "Reynolds??" I think. It was a great option for the price. Let me know if you find it!

          1. re: cleopatra999

            Keep in mind, as I pointed out in my first post, that "fortifieds" from Oz are not true Porto wines. They ARE very good (or at least "can be"), but they taste nothing like a true Porto.

            There are a tiny number of producers in Oz that are experimenting with true Portuguese varieties, but they are few and far between. Most Australian Tawnies are produced from grapes such as Grenache and Shiraz, rather than true Portuguese grape varieties. Also, they typically age in a Solera system -- like a Spanish Sherry -- rather than being blended as true Porto is. Again, this doesn't mean they aren't (can be) great wines, but they are different and remind me nothing of a true Tawny Porto. I find them to be a style unto themselves.

            Indeed, you may want to look at for how a Master of Wine, writing in Australia's national wine magazine, views Aussie fortifieds.

            I enjoy the "lower end" wines, such as those I previously mentioned, as well as the offering from Trevor Jones, RL Buller, Grant Burge, and Seppelt. That said, once you get into the realm of 10-Year and 20-Year Tawny Porto, I personally find much more character, depth and complexity from these Portuguese wines than I do from the "mid-range" Australian Tawnies. Again, this is MY palate; YMMV.

            On the high end of things, however, Seppelt offering a wine unique in all the world: Seppelt 100 Year Old Para Liqueur Vintage Tawny. The current offering is 1905, IIRC. Amazing wine, nothing like a Porto (Vintage OR Tawny), and -- IMHO -- ridiculously expensive (you can buy 100 year old Vintage Porto for less!) . . . but it is amazing, and I'm very glad I've been able to try it on a couple of occasions.


            1. re: zin1953

              I just bought three bottles of Hardy's Whiskers Blake for $10.39 / each in NH. For my money, it is hard to beat. I have heard on complaints about "state run" liquor stores but it seems The Granite State has done a great job. Low prices, volume discounts, and NO SALES TAX ! "Live Free or Die" indeed......................

            2. re: cleopatra999

              That's probably Grant Burge from Barossa Valley. I believe it's being imported (at least K&L and the Jug Shop list it in San Francisco). They also make a wonderful sticky and some lovely reds (the Trinity).

              1. re: Windy

                Thanks for the H/U. I have not had this stickie, but have enjoyed the port-styled wines from Hardy's, Trafford, Yalumba (both the Clocktower & Galway Pipe), plus a few others. I find them enjoyable wines and at a fair price. Haven't seen the Galway Pipe, lately, but then Im in AZ, and Port, or port-styled wines, are just not marketed that extensively.

                Only poor showing that I've found was the Matua (NZ). Along those lines, the KWV (RSA) has always been something that I did not care to consume.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  I got the sticky in Australia, so I'm not sure whether they make enough to export. Grant Burge is a lovely place to visit.

                  I'm not surprised about the Matua. I haven't had a red wine I've liked from New Zealand, even after trying many of the pricey and well-reviewed pinot noirs from the Queenstown area.