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Sep 28, 2012 06:11 PM

new to port

I'm new to port, I just served a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage with desert (butter cake) at a dinner party on a whim. I thought it was great, and was a huge hit with everybody else, and made me wonder what I've been missing.

Can anybody recommend any of the other ports listed in the attached pictures? Are any of the vintages listed here worth the extra expense? Just let me know if you need the translation of any of the descriptions.

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  1. I can't read either of the pictures of the monopoly catalog after uploading, so here's the names:
    Ferreira Late Bottled Vintage 2007
    Taylor's Late Bottled Vintage 2007
    Conde de Monsul Tawny
    Taylor's Chip Dry White
    Krohn Lagrima
    Niepoort Ruby
    Old Invalid
    Fonseca Terra Prima
    Dow's Trademark Finest Reserve Port
    Graham's Natura Reserve Port
    Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007
    Kopke 20 Years Old Tawny
    Fonseca Crusted Port
    Smith Woodhouse Late Bottled Vintage Port
    Graham's Quinta Dos Malvedos Vintage Port 2002
    Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny Port
    Dow's 10 Years Old Tawny
    Portal Colheita 2000
    Quinta do Portal Vintage 2005
    Fonseca Vintage Port 2007
    Ferreira Vintage Port 1997
    Graham's Vintage Port 2007

    5 Replies
    1. re: adamj880

      From your list: Kopke 20 Years Old Tawny. Easy.

      Everything else is too young.

      1. re: Porthos

        have you tried it, or do you just say that because its the oldest one there?

        1. re: adamj880

          Both. I usually like 30 year tawnies but 20 is okay after being open a few days. I have had some great 1970 and 1966 vintage ports. Tried a 1997 Taylor that was way too young. Won't do it again. Didn't like the 1985 Dow x 2 or the 1970 Dow x 1. Maybe Dow is not my style. I have plenty of 2000, 2003, 1997, 1994, 1985 Fonseca, Taylor, and Dow that I'm letting rest until their 30-40 birthdays. My 1977 Taylors are still very young tasting. If you buy the 2007s they probably need to rest 20 years minimum and I assumed you wanted to drink now. But if you're willing to wait the 2007 Fonseca is probably nice.

          I've tried the Kopke 20 year tawny and their colhietas. Specifically the 1990, 1987, 1981. The 1981 and 1987 were killer. They have a nice complexity and nice acidity to them. Delicious with epiosses.

          Do a taste test before you buy multiple bottles. But I would put my money on the 20 year Kopke at this time.

          1. re: Porthos

            Thanks for the info. I'll definitely give the Kopke 20 year tawny a try as something I can serve right now. I'll also start thinking about investing in some of these vintages. I've gotten pretty good at hoarding food and drink after moving up here, I guess with port it's the same thing just without the rotation policy. I'll probably just trust you on the 2007 Fonseca, but if I was to open one of these 2007 vintages right now, what would differentiate the good ones from the bad ones? Or would it just be a crime to open any of them now?

            1. re: adamj880

              I don't have enough port experience to predict aging curves. All I know is that young port is way too alcoholic and sweet for me and that my best port experiences are with Tawnies and Colhietas at least 20 years old and vintage ports 30+ years old. Based on my experienced with 1970 Fonseca vs 1970 Dow, I think I like Fonseca's style more. The 1977 Taylor was just beginning to show its potential and I loved it so I also buy Taylor to age.

              Maybe Bill and Jason will chime in.

              You should also check out the following resources:




    2. trying again with the catalog

      1. I can't read molecular text. Best portos since WWII are 63, 77, 85, 94. The 85's are drinkable now, the magnificent 94's I would rest another score.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          Thanks for the reply, sorry my second attempt at the catalog didn't work any better. I live in Scandinavia, home of the government monopoly on anything over 5% alcohol, my choices are limited. I listed the ports that are available to me above. I'm just looking for something on this list that would be worth my time and money to enjoy with my husband or serve to other non-connoisseurs at a dinner party for example.

          Maybe someday as my tastes, wallet, and I mature, I will seek out these vintages on my travels, but for now it would be great if anybody could recommend anything in the above list.

          thanks for your opinions :)

          1. re: adamj880

            adam, would you mind explaining the government monopoly?

            1. re: alkapal

              Thanks for the replies! You can read about the government monopolies for Norway:, Finland:, and Sweden: We live in Norway but buy alcohol in Finland since it's 1/2 the Norwegian prices, and the nearest shop to us is an Alko across the Finnish border anyways.

            2. re: adamj880

              I'd just get a standard, non-aged port. cheaper and I like it sweeter.

              1. re: Chowrin

                Chowrin, I'm not trying to be difficult -- truly -- but I have no idea what you mean when you say "get a standard, non-aged port."

                All Ports are aged prior to bottling, so there's no such thing as a "non-aged" one.

                Do you mean port (small "p") from California, Washington State, New York, Missouri, or South Africa, among others? Or do you mean Porto (capital "P") from Portugal?

                What do you mean by "standard"? I've never seen a label with the word "standard" on it.

                Some Port wines are sweeter than others, and this has nothing to do with age, but rather with how it's produced int he first place.

                When someone is asking for assistance with a particular wine, I believe that it is essential to provide specific information. I am sure that *you* know what you mean by "standard, non-aged port," but I wouldn't want someone new to to fortified wines to be running around asking for it . . .

                1. re: zin1953

                  Thanks, I probably just mean tawny.

                  1. re: Chowrin

                    See? I thought you would have meant Ruby -- see item 1a on this outline:

          2. I think it's rather more complicated than "never driink a port that is less than 20 years old". The ports that need the most ageing are the true vintage ports (as opposed to late bottled vintage) from a really good year. Good vintage ports can stand ageing and can benefit from it. I bought a few bottles of Graham 1955 - drank the first in 1973 and the last in 1999. It was excellent in 1973 and it was incredible in 1999. (If I hadn't drunk it then I would have had to worry about rebottling it.) I may be wrong but some of the brands (Niepoort and Kopke) sound like they are from South Africa. A couple of days ago I had the good fortune to taste some wines from Portal such as the Colheita 2000. I talked to the owner (Pedro Branco)and he said they started Portal in 1994 (prior to that they sold their grapes to others) - the Portal wines were interesting and may be worth paying serious attention to as they gain more experience and build up their reserves of wine.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kagemusha49

              I was very careful not to say "never drink a port that is less than 20 years old". That's just my personal preference.

              Back to the OP's question, which would you recommend from her list?

              1. re: Porthos

                I've only tasted the Portal Colheita 2000 which has promise But, sight unseen, I think I'd go for the Graham Late Bottled Vintage. But that doesn't answer the poster's original question. So, I'll agree that the Kopke tawny is worth a shot as is the Grahams Quinta dos Malvedos 2002.
                BUT the main point I was trying to make was that age rules are an oversimplification. I cited the example of Graham 1955 of which I drank several bottles over an age range of 16 to 44 years. At 16 it was excellent and at 44 it was truly great. But not all ports will age as well as the 1955 and some ports are not designed to be aged much.

            2. Totally disregarding the Ports on your list, are you aware that there are Ports, then there are Ports, and finally, there are Ports.

              A Tawny will be totally unlike a Vintage Port (VP), and also a Late Bottle Vintage (LBV). They are produced differently, and the results are different.

              The wines on your list are "across the board," so it is totally impossible to recommend one, over the others. It is your taste - VP, LBV or Tawney, that typifies them.

              There are several very good Port threads on CH, and I strongly recommend that you do a Search of this board, and read those. There is a lot of great info, and some very useful descriptions of each type of Port.



              5 Replies
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                >>> . . . there are Ports, then there are Ports, and finally, there are Ports. <<<

                To the OP, check out this posting on Chowhound:

                1. re: zin1953

                  Yep, that was one of the ones, to which I was referring to. Lots of great info, and very useful to anyone with an interest in Port.

                  Thank you - I was too lazy (or maybe too far into Wine-thirty) to Search for them.


                2. re: Bill Hunt

                  Yes, I was somewhat aware of this, or at least as aware as the Wikipedia article on Ports could have made me.

                  I was mostly looking for something I could order, then immediately serve with dessert, without ageing, and certainly without the pretension and cost of some vintage twice my age. I've got some good ideas from this post and the links posted, in the end I just need to keep ordering and sampling, and I'll figure out what we like. I'm picking up 4 very different €20ish bottles next week based on the suggestions and wisdom from here.

                  For what it's worth I've already (secretly) picked up a couple bottles of the 2007 (year we met) vintages, I figure they'll probably make for a pretty special anniversary present in a few decades.

                  1. re: adamj880


                    Look to Tawny Ports (ready to be consumed upon release)
                    Ruby Ports (ready to be consumed upon release)
                    LBV Ports (can age a bit, but are usually pretty much ready to go)

                    VP can be consumed upon release, but its full potential comes from bottle aging. My wife enjoys VP younger, while I like most older. Different tastes. There is nothing BAD about younger VP's, but they are "designed" to be aged in bottle.



                    1. re: adamj880

                      You may want to try looking into muscats, ice wines and other dessert wines which are often in 375ml bottles which are easier to finish at dessert. Good bottles can be inexpensive but like anything, the really high rated stuff costs. I understand tradition but the selfish side of me wishes vintage port was in smaller bottles.