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  1. #1
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    Ins and Outs of Port

    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?

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2009 and Virtuoso
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    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    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
    Last edited by doubleblank; 03-10-2008 at 11:59.

  3. #3
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    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    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!

  4. #4
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    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    Yes, I am fairly familiar with port. You should start with wikipedia or this webpage 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.
    Last edited by Sijan; 03-10-2008 at 12:29.
    -Dan

    Who stole the cork from my breakfast?

  5. #5
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    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    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.

  6. #6
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    Smile Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    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.

  7. #7

    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    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.
    Tim

  8. #8
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    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    Quote Originally Posted by TNbourbon View Post
    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.
    -Dan

    Who stole the cork from my breakfast?

  9. #9
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    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    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.
    Netherlands

  10. #10
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    Re: Ins and Outs of Port

    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.

 

 

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