Port 101

For many, a bottle of port is a treat enjoyed at Christmas-time, a way of finishing the feast with a little ritual. But port comes in a wide variety of styles and suits all sorts of occasions and times of year. One thing all ports have in common, whether they’re ruby or tawny or white, comes from their birthplace in the sun-parched vineyards of Portugal’s wild and mountainous Douro valley: a rich, deep, complex whack of spicy fruit.

What is Port? 

Port is made from a blend of grapes, crushed together. Fermentation is stopped partway through the process by the addition of neutral grape alcohol, leaving plenty of natural sugars in the wine. The barrels (called “pipes”) of new port are traditionally taken to warehouses in Vila Nova de Gaia, at the mouth of the river, to begin their ageing.

 

Ruby or Tawny?

All red port starts out as ruby. After two years, the wines are assessed. Some stay in the barrel for decades, becoming tawny port; others are blended and bottled after a few more years as ruby or late bottled vintage ports. 

 

Vintage Port 

In very good years, about one percent of the wine made is deemed worthy to be a vintage port and is bottled after a year, unfiltered, to slowly age in the bottle for 10 years or much, much longer. 

 

Heavenly Matches

Sweet port and a salty blue cheese like Stilton is one of the world’s great pairings. Port’s also great with walnuts, dried fruits, fresh berries – and sublime with dark chocolate, bringing out the taste of the cocoa berries.

 

SANDEMAN RUBY PORT

Rich, full-bodied and seeming slightly sweeter and smoother than many other rubies, this port hides a hint of caramel among its ripe mulberry, black cherry and plum flavours. Like all modern ruby and LBV ports, it’s ready to drink and doesn’t need to be decanted.


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TAYLOR FLADGATE LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT

Taylor Fladgate invented the LBV style, barrel-ageing port from a single vintage for four to six years. Richer and more complex than a simple ruby, it packs smooth power behind its cloak of spiced plum and blackberry fruit – vintage port style at a fraction of the price.

 

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