We’re all aware that Port is the quintessential Christmas drink, but people are starting to explore outside of the usual Ruby, LBV and Vintage styles and rediscovering a long-overlooked gem: Tawny Port.
Tawny Port is having something of a revival of late, with FOOD & WINE’s Raymond Blake recently calling it “Port’s best kept secret”. But what sets it apart from the other styles of this famous fortified wine?
While Vintage Port is aged for about two years in wood and then bottled before ageing some more in glass, Tawny differs in that it spends all its time in barrel, hence the age statements – 10 Year Old, 20 Year Old, etc. – instead of vintage years on the label.
This time in barrel means that the wine gradually loses colour over time, giving the style its name. So what began as a bright, ruby-red wine soon turns copper, then mahogany and on to pale walnut. The flavour changes too, going from fruity figs and honey all the way to toffee and chocolate, and much more.
Famous Port house Graham’s has four aged Tawnies available here in Ireland, available from specialist wine shops such as Mitchell & Son in Dublin. Each is made with grapes that could potentially have been included in Vintage Port but were instead designated to don the robe of Tawny, and each comes in a beautiful presentation tube for Christmas.
Graham’s Port 10 Year Old Tawny
A perfect introduction to the Aged Tawny style, this is luscious and rich with flavours of nuts, honey and fig.
Graham’s Port 20 Year Old Tawny
Nuts, honey and fig predominate, just as with the 10 Year Old, though joined now by dates and orange peel.
Graham’s Port 30 Year Old Tawny
An excellent example of ageing, this is lusciously mellow and has a magnificent array of dried fruits on the nose.
Graham’s Port 40 Year Old Tawny
Liquid history. Superb aged aromas of toffee, smoke, chocolate and dried fruit, with an extremely long finish.