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wintermute
03-10-2008, 10:43
Anyone know the ins and outs of Port? Tawny vs Ruby? How long to store before drinking, etc.? Any that can be drunk immediately w/o breaking the bank?

doubleblank
03-10-2008, 11:53
What to try w/o breaking the bank......try Grahams "Six Grapes" ruby port. It's relatively inexpensive and can sometimes be found in .375's (sells for under $20 for a .750). Fonseca's Bin 27 is similar. Ruby's are very fresh tasting with lots of sweet fruit flavors.

Tawnys are aged in wood longer, somewhat oxidized and take on softer, nuttier flavors. Good ones tend to be more expensive. But if you want to try one, go for one of the bigger houses' 10yo. Taylor's or Graham's are widely available (Graham's sells for $30).

Stay away from vintage ports if you're on a budget. They need at least 10 years of bottle age to settle down.

Each major port house also makes a bottling of just plain old "Ruby Port" or "Tawny Port" and sell .750's for around $13. They're not terrible, but I'd pay the extra $ and get a bottling I recommended above (or similar).

Randy

Vange
03-10-2008, 12:04
Ahh port....

Lots of different categories. Here is what I know in a nutshell.

Ruby Port - the cheapest, sometimes a blend of white and red port, meant to be pop and pour. Average stuff at best. ($10-$25 a bottle)

Late Bottled Vintage Port - LBVs are ports that remained in casks longer 4-6 years rather than the typical 2-3 to simulate the maturity of a vintage port. 2 types of Late Bottled Vintage exisit, filtered and unfiltered. The UNFILTERED will sometimes state that fact OR say bottle matured OR Traditional. If it's one of those UNFILTERED it requires filtering (it has sediment) and benefits from decanting. I think this an EXCELLENT way to enjoy port. ($16-$30 a bottle)

Vintage Port - THIS IS THE BEST STUFF and it comes with a price! Only declared years can be called vintage port. This means the conditions were great and the year was declared. The last declared year was 2003. VPs should be cellared for 10-50 years before they reach peak maturity. Vintage ports DO bottle age. Tehey will mature and change. They require filtering and decanting as well. I have a few 1977s in my collection that from what I read could still age another 10 years! (price depends on when you buy it, when they first come out they typically sell for $50, but again you should sit on them until they mature, at least for a little while)

Crusted Port - This is my everyday port pour if I had one. It is a blend of various vintage ports and thus has been called the "poor man's vintage port". Definitely filter and decant. I typically decant for 24 hours, HUGE difference. Most of the alcohol softens over that amount of time.

Tawny Port - More piney and lighter in color than all the above. Can be sweeter and more honey like. These are ports that are aged in CASKS for LONG periods of time. Vintage ports are only aged 2-3 in barrels then bottle aged for 10-50 years. The breakouts are 10, 20, 30, and 40 year. Price always goes up. ($25-$200+)

Colheita Port - A tawny port, but a vintage year is stated on the bottle rather than a number of years. I have not had one of these and I may not have it 100% correct.

When I got into port, I started with the rubys (Bin 27 was one of my favs) and wanted to know more so I goggled and joined www.fortheloveofport.com. Learned a lot from there (those guys are good!) and tried the LBVs and crusted ports. I really like the crusted and bought a few VPs (which are amazing). I am not a fan of tawny port, just too sweet and honey-like for me. I like the lusciousness of the crusted and UNFILTERED LBVs and obviously VPs. My order VPS, Crusted, unfiltered LBVs. Those are the only ports I drink anymore. Hope this helps!

Sijan
03-10-2008, 12:25
Yes, I am fairly familiar with port. You should start with wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_wine#Styles) or this webpage (http://www.wineloverspage.com/port/jbl030197.shtml) to get the basic overview and understand the difference between ruby-style and tawny-style ports.

As for port bargains, I would generally avoid basic rubies and tawnies with no age statement even though they are the cheapest. There are three types of port where you can get a very good drink for a reasonably low price:

(1) The most affordable is Reserve or "Vintage Character" port (NOT vintage), which is basically a high-end ruby port. Graham's Six Grapes suggested by Randy is one example. Other's include Fonseca's Bin 27, Warre's Warrior, Sandeman's Founder's Reserve, Cockburn Special Reserve, and Noval LB. These are all generally quite good (scoring in the mid-high 80s) and drinkable now. These should generally be in the $15-20 range for 750ml. These can generally be opened and drunk for several weeks with little or no degradation.

(2) Tawny ports of roughly 10 years old are generally a very good value. All of the major Port shippers make a 10 year old Tawny. You should be able to pick any one of them and enjoy it quite a bit. Some of the Aussie tawnies aren't exactly 10 years old, but are in the 8-12 year range. In fact, some of the Aussie tawnies with no age statement (Hardy's Whiskers Blake, Jonesy, and Benjamin's) are also quite good and a great value. Ten yr old tawnies from a major port shipper should be in the $20-30 range. The Aussie NAS tawnies can be as low as $10-15. These can generally be opened and drunk for several weeks - perhaps even several months - with little or no degradation.

(3) Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports are a great value, and are as close to true vintage port as you can get without spending the big bucks. These are like vintage ports in that they will have a vintage year on them. However, unlike vintage ports, they are aged much longer in the barrel before bottling and do not require additional aging in the bottle. While some may improve with age, most are ready to drink now. (Generally, LBVs that improve with age are unfiltered and come with a driven cork like a normal wine bottle, rather than the T-shaped stopper that comes with ruby and tawny ports. When you're starting out, I would recommend avoiding the unfiltered LBVs so that you don't have to decant to remove sediment.) I would recommend trying an LBV from a major shipper like Taylor or Dow. If you can find an LBV from the 2000 vintage, you're probably in luck, but you're more likely to see 2001 on the shelves now I think. You should be able to find these in the $20-30 range. These generally won't stay good for quite as long as the other two types I recommend. Probably at their best for a week or two. Occasionally even the filtered LBVs need to be aerated a bit in order to open up, although I find this also tends to reduce how long they stay good.

Some people store their opened bottles of port in the fridge to keep it fresh longer. I generally don't do that, but would probably try it in order to keep a true vintage port alive for an extra day or two.

Always consider pairing port with blue cheeses, such as stilton, and salted nuts. I find it really enhances my enjoyment of the port. In general, I find that blue cheeses tend to go better with ruby-style ports, while salted nuts tend to go better with tawny-style ports.

Vange
03-10-2008, 12:43
Here is sometimes where I differ when it comes to port pairings, I do not like stilton with my port. I can see how it pairs well, but I prefer hard cheeses like an extra aged gouda or Hirtenkäse.

Tennessee Dave
03-10-2008, 15:57
For a great ready to drink tawny port look to Australia. Yalumba Clocktower is very inexpensive ($15 to $20) and is really good. Grahams 6 grapes is a good ruby to try and a good LBV is Smith Woodhouse Lodge reserve. I really enjoy ports with cigars. Great taste combination.:grin:

TNbourbon
03-10-2008, 16:07
I agree with the several others here that Late Bottled Vintages (LBVs) are great values that emulate vintage Ports pretty well. I always have some on hand, and usually one (or more) open. Unlike the latter Ports, however, they do not have decades-long shelf lives, but will be best enjoyed as soon as possible after bottling/issue, as is intended by their producers. Thus, it's important to pay attention to the vintage dates -- I still see some from 1994 on shelves, for example. That's too old, though they would not be, by any means, ruined. Buy newer ones from 2000 or later, if available.

Sijan
03-10-2008, 19:40
Unlike the latter Ports, however, they do not have decades-long shelf lives, but will be best enjoyed as soon as possible after bottling/issue, as is intended by their producers. Thus, it's important to pay attention to the vintage dates -- I still see some from 1994 on shelves, for example. That's too old, though they would not be, by any means, ruined. Buy newer ones from 2000 or later, if available.

It really depends on whether they are unfiltered or not. Unfiltered LBVs are designed for aging, sometimes for decades, although they won't age quite as long as vintage port. And even filtered LBVs can last for quite awhile on the shelf - I really don't think they'll go bad in the time frame where we're still likely to find them on shelves. I don't see any filtered LBVs from 1994 on store shelves now, but would not hesitate to drink one if I found it.

mier
03-11-2008, 04:10
I am a big fan of portwines,mostly i buy the lbv`s or colheita types but also the more regular tawny and ruby ones. I had a bottle from my dad who bought a bottle from his birthyear 1931 and he gave it to me just before he died,together with a bottle i got from my wife as a birthdaypresent it are the only bottles i never gonna drink,just for sentimental reasons.For my son i already bought some lbv`s from his birthyear which i will handover when he has the proper age.My favorite brands are Kopke,Niepoort and Dows but also Sandeman has some reasonable priced ports,supermarkets also though quality differs a lot,from about US$ 3 you already can get a fair port.If you buy a port with an agestatement given(10 yo orso)remember that it is the average age of all the ports in it only vintages have the true age that stands on the label.My latest discovery was white port which according to an English friend is a totally continental European thing which he never heard or tasted.The white one goes well with matured cheeses or sweet desserts or just by itself.Drink it chilled.Anyone knows this variety?
Eric.

Vange
03-11-2008, 08:25
For specific recommendations here are a few.

Warre's has a LBV I see around that is really good for about $22. Warre's Bottle Matured 1995 LBV. It is an UNFILTERED so it could have sediment and needs some time to open up.

Dow's Crusted Port 1998, 1999, or 2000. Again, this will have sediment and could use some decanting to open up.

Sijan
03-11-2008, 19:22
Do you see many Crusted Ports anymore? I have only seen one bottling (Dow's 2000) at one store in the many wine shops I've visited in the DC area and elsewhere.

I agree on the Warre's 1995 LBV, although it is unfiltered so there is some inconvenience.

For filtered ports, you are in good shape if you can find Taylor's 2000 LBV or Dow's 2000 LBV. Unfortunately, 2001 has replaced the 2000 for most LBVs I'm seeing on the shelves.

Vange
03-11-2008, 19:24
Just Churchill and Dows and not often. I prefer them to LBVs.

wintermute
03-12-2008, 07:34
Wow, thanks for all of the help. Port definitely seems to be an arcane drink!

Sijan
03-12-2008, 09:01
There's a lot to know eventually, but you don't need to know all that much right now in order to enjoy it. Just go get a bottle of Fonseca Bin 27 or Graham's Six Grapes (or Warre's Warrior or Sandeman's Founder's Reserve) and let us know what you think.

CorvallisCracker
03-13-2008, 12:36
For a great ready to drink tawny port look to Australia. Yalumba Clocktower is very inexpensive ($15 to $20) and is really good. Grahams 6 grapes is a good ruby to try and a good LBV is Smith Woodhouse Lodge reserve. I really enjoy ports with cigars. Great taste combination.:grin:

Although the Aussie offerings are not "true" ports (not being from Portugal) I agree that they're good choices for the money. Try the Buller "Victoria" Tawny, a favorite of mine and costs about $13-14.

mier
03-14-2008, 03:31
I agree on the Warre's 1995 LBV, although it is unfiltered so there is some inconvenience.

Forget decanting in Portugal they just pour it trough a coffeefilter,the best "portfilter" there is and you use the whole contents.
Eric.

pepcycle
03-14-2008, 08:10
There's a nice little summary of ports in Travelhost magazine.

I was interviewing in Rockland County, NY and the hotel had this magazine in the room.

Simple and to the point.

Its page 43 of the March/April edition for NYC Suburbs and Hudson Valley.

http://www.travelhost.com/jsp/magazines.jsp

Sijan
03-14-2008, 08:38
Forget decanting in Portugal they just pour it trough a coffeefilter,the best "portfilter" there is and you use the whole contents.
Eric.

How well do coffee filters work generally for decanting wine?

I have a small metal filter that fits in the mouth of my decanter - it looks a bit like a drainer you might find in an old sink. It will catch most chunks, but the 1mm grid is too big to catch real small particles.

Vange
03-14-2008, 08:44
I use UNBLEACHED cheese cloth to filter my ports and then a standard $30 decanter to let it breathe.

mier
03-14-2008, 09:24
I always use coffeefilters from a German brand called Melita,50 paperfilters for 80 cts or so and i`ve never had any residu in my port,i never thought of cheesecloth,that`s a good idea too.
I read about Australian "port" did anyone tried South-African?I had a South-African port from 1967 and you couldn`t taste the diffrence.
Eric.

mier
03-14-2008, 09:35
Sijan,like me to sent you a pack of them?
ERic.

Sijan
03-14-2008, 09:54
I've heard of using unbleached cheese cloth before. At what sort of store
can I reliably find it?

Sijan
03-14-2008, 09:56
Eric, thanks for your kind offer, but I don't want to inconvenience you. Do you think they are notably different from the coffee filters available in the US?

Vange
03-14-2008, 10:09
I am almost embarrassed to post this. I got my cheese cloth from here. It goes a LONG way.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/detail.jsp;jsessionid=83F8D81A171F29ADE6F82FFF2645 618B?id=4212

Vange
03-14-2008, 10:18
For a pop and pour with no filtering or decanting, buy a FILTERED LBV. I know Dow's has one I liked.

Tennessee Dave
03-14-2008, 19:44
Galway Pipe is another excellent port.

Vange
03-17-2008, 07:46
This weekend when buying a Bushmills Black Bush Irish whiskey, Guiness, and Harp's I checked out the port area to see what they had in stock. I saw many filtered LBVs and a few unfiltered LBVs. I spotted a new unfiltered LBV I never saw before, Fonseca 2001 Unfiltered LBV $23. I'll have to go back and buy one and try it.

wintermute
03-17-2008, 09:13
I bought a 500 ml bottle of Warre's Otimo 10 yr Tawny for $20. Nice honey flavor in the back of the throat. Having only "improper pairings these last few nights, I tried it with sharp cheddar - the sharpness contrasted well with the port, feta - not a good pairing, and then Irish soda bread - worked well, especially with the bread I got not being sweet enough for my liking.

If the label on an LBV doesn't state whether it's filtered, what's the safest thing to assume (I don't have a decanter)? Also, how are Croft's offerings? My local store hand the most offerings by this house and they were realtively inexpensive.

Vange
03-17-2008, 09:32
If nothing is stated its definitely filtered.
Croft makes decent VP, not sure about anything else though.

mitchshrader
03-17-2008, 12:12
I know very little about port, having tried only a couple bottles so far. A Taylor-Fladgate 20 year old Tawny, and their 10 year old LBV.

The 20 year old was dryer, more complex, a noticeable tobacco taste, like a tobacco barn smells, with a looooooong evolving flavor that took a while to absorb. Woody and leather notes on a plummy base.. I much prefer it, over the younger.. I wish I'd tried it with a light spicy cigar. I did pair some Emmenthal cheese with it, that being available,.. and it worked very well. :)

The 10 year LBV was more direct, a bit sweeter, more 'quaffable'. Still a lot of flavor but shorter, more 'liqueurish' .. I think it would pair better with dark bitter chocolate, or fruit and nuts..like fresh strawberries and walnuts..

If I didn't like cognac I'd probably drink more port.. ;)

Sijan
03-17-2008, 17:56
This weekend when buying a Bushmills Black Bush Irish whiskey, Guiness, and Harp's I checked out the port area to see what they had in stock. I saw many filtered LBVs and a few unfiltered LBVs. I spotted a new unfiltered LBV I never saw before, Fonseca 2001 Unfiltered LBV $23. I'll have to go back and buy one and try it.

You can also make a nice drink by pairing your Guiness with a shot of ruby port. It's called a Midnight, and basically takes Guiness from dry stout to sweet stout.

Sijan
03-17-2008, 18:13
I bought a 500 ml bottle of Warre's Otimo 10 yr Tawny for $20. Nice honey flavor in the back of the throat. Having only "improper pairings these last few nights, I tried it with sharp cheddar - the sharpness contrasted well with the port, feta - not a good pairing, and then Irish soda bread - worked well, especially with the bread I got not being sweet enough for my liking..

I am actually near the end of a bottle of the Warre's Otima right now. I found the alcohol on it a little strong until it had been open for a few weeks. But it has been really nice in the few times I've had it in the past week.


If the label on an LBV doesn't state whether it's filtered, what's the safest thing to assume (I don't have a decanter)? Also, how are Croft's offerings? My local store hand the most offerings by this house and they were realtively inexpensive.

It is probably filtered if it doesn't say anything. There are a few synonyms for unfiltered such as "traditionally bottled" and "bottle matured."

wintermute
04-04-2008, 11:52
I finally had the chance to pair some Stilton with port. I guess every once in a while, British cuisine does something right. I cringed when I thought of the pairing - sweet wine with bitter, cheesy, cheese. Sounded like a dessert course made in hell. Boy was I wrong! Both flavors went swimmingly together! Now I have to pick up a replacement for my empty bottle to go with the rest of the Stilton!

Sijan
04-04-2008, 13:12
Glad you liked it. Try a (filtered) LBV next. They're quite different from tawnies, and I think pair even better with Stilton.

Vange
04-04-2008, 14:19
IMO tawnies are more raisiney and not as full as LBVs.

cowdery
04-13-2008, 12:44
I finally have to say it. Every time I see this thread name I wish it was "Ins and Outs of Pork."

mitchshrader
04-17-2008, 20:08
I'm not much of a port guy, but have been starting to dabble a bit. Picked up 500ml of Old Cave, 12 year old Australian Tawny... and a bottle of Taylor Fladgate LBV 2001. Each was 20$, and I felt experimental. Anyone know about the Australian one? The Taylor Fladgate I've had, and it's 'Old Reliable'.

The 'Old Cave' was heavily sedimented, a good covering over the bottom, so I am assuming non-filtered, and possibly worth aging in the bottle?

CorvallisCracker
04-18-2008, 11:20
I'm not much of a port guy, but have been starting to dabble a bit. Picked up 500ml of Old Cave, 12 year old Australian Tawny... and a bottle of Taylor Fladgate LBV 2001. Each was 20$, and I felt experimental. Anyone know about the Australian one? The Taylor Fladgate I've had, and it's 'Old Reliable'.

The 'Old Cave' was heavily sedimented, a good covering over the bottom, so I am assuming non-filtered, and possibly worth aging in the bottle?

Never seen "Old Cave". Sounds interesting.

A tawny with a lot of bottle age will throw sediment, but usually not all that much, so if it's as heavily sedimented as you describe then it may well be unfiltered (unusual for a tawny). My guess would be that an unfiltered tawny would be like an unfiltered LBV - it would benefit from bottle aging, but not as much as would a vintage port (not much point in giving an LBV any more than 3-5 years of bottle age).

number7
04-18-2008, 16:26
Just wanted to throw a couple of other things in here:

Ruby ports are normally "aged" in stainless steel or concrete to keeps its deep red color.

Everything else is in wood.

I always understood LBVs as a "failed" vintage, meaning it wasn't good enough to declare, so they let it sit in the casks for several more years and then bottled them. Well, that and a way to create a distinction.

Vintage ports are normally only aged for a short time in wood, 2 to 3 years. Just enough to give a little of the wood's character to the port, then off to the bottling....

I have many vintage ports, but the set-down times frighten me. So I've evolved a process: I buy at least three bottles and set down two and open one almost immediately. I know what you're thinking but it's nice to enjoy something right away. And I've noticed that if I use a Vacuvin stopper and let it set for some time, it usually settles down a little bit. Anecdotal, I know, but it's seemed to have worked for me and I don't have to wait another 20 years to open the Graham's 2003.

If you like port, try Pedro Ximenez Sherries from Spain. Their character is similar to port and they're cheap. Only problem is that most of the bottles I find of the good stuff are in 375ML bottles.

I'm doing my part to drink as much port and sherry as I can to create more barrels for Scotch. See? It's a service to humanity....

CorvallisCracker
04-18-2008, 17:05
I always understood LBVs as a "failed" vintage, meaning it wasn't good enough to declare, so they let it sit in the casks for several more years and then bottled them. Well, that and a way to create a distinction.

I've seen LBVs from years like 1994 and 1997, both of which yielded many vintage dated ports.


If you like port, try Pedro Ximenez Sherries from Spain. Their character is similar to port and they're cheap. Only problem is that most of the bottles I find of the good stuff are in 375ML bottles.

I second that. A favorite is Alvear. They have a "1927" bottling which is fabulous, all the more so for costing only about $20-22 for a 375ml bottle. These are aged in a solera system, one started in 1927. There are probably only a few molecules of 81yo wine in each bottle.


I'm doing my part to drink as much port and sherry as I can to create more barrels for Scotch. See? It's a service to humanity....

Of course.

TNbourbon
04-18-2008, 17:48
...I always understood LBVs as a "failed" vintage, meaning it wasn't good enough to declare, so they let it sit in the casks for several more years and then bottled them....


I've seen LBVs from years like 1994 and 1997, both of which yielded many vintage dated ports...

In fact, the Late Bottled Vintage name originated because the grapes first used with the designation were ones intended for use in Vintage port, but left in the barrel longer than the maximum 2-1/2 years, for whatever reason. In other words, these weren't 'bad' or 'failed' grapes, just unused ones.
Today, shippers use the additional barrel aging to provide some of the experience of drinking a Vintage port without the long years of wait for bottle aging. It succeeds, to a limited extent, because they do use good grapes.

Bob O.
04-18-2008, 18:13
I second that. A favorite is Alvear. They have a "1927" bottling which is fabulous, all the more so for costing only about $20-22 for a 375ml bottle. These are aged in a solera system, one started in 1927. There are probably only a few molecules of 81yo wine in each bottle.
This is a great bottle. I have had a few and unfortunately only one more left.

number7
04-18-2008, 20:14
Of the Alvear 1927


This is a great bottle. I have had a few and unfortunately only one more left.

That's the one I had in mind. I bought a case; down to the last three or so, so I'm careful about drinking them until I can get a suitable replacement.

Or I should see if I can get more....

I like the Anada (imagine the ~ on the 'n'; I'm lazy right now....). I'd like to get some of the Reserva, but I believe that's hard to find.


I like the idea of the leftovers aspect of the LBV.

Jono
04-22-2008, 13:07
I am not a Port afficionado but I do enjoy on occasion (holidays)...I enjoy
Galway Pipe Tawny as a nice economical Aussie import.

Here is snapshot:

http://www.winestar.com.au/prod877.htm

Vange
04-24-2008, 13:26
The other night I cracked open a LBV port since this thread made me VERY thirsty! My choice was a Warre's 1999 (bottled in 2003) Late Bottled Vintage. I filtered it through cheesecloth (very little sediment) into a decanter and drank 1/4 of the bottle on the first night. It had strawberry flavors, but was a tad alcoholic and tasted a bit thinner than the other Warre's LBV I had. So far a little disappointed. The next day after a full 24 hour decanting period I went back to it and it had had softened nicely. The taste turned to more of a thicker feel with hints of blackberry and blueberry. The alcohol was turned way down. I finished off the remaining 3/4. All in all, a nice LBV after 24 hours of decanting.