Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quinta Santa Eufemia, 20 year old tawny port

G was recently the lucky recipient of a couple of bottles of this tawny port and generously shared them with me. This stuff was a revelation! Admittedly I haven't drunk tawny port for a very long time, but this showed how good it can be. You can see the colour was a reddish brown and it was more like a serious medium-sweet madeira than a vintage port. I stupidly failed to make any tasting notes but can remember that it was quite sweet and had an excellent finish. It also has the advantage that you don't have to decant it as it doesn't throw a sediment, although you miss the excitement that you get with vintage port of seeing how just much gunge is in the bottom of the bottle.

I've just done some homework and see that Richard Mayson, a port expert, considers that 20 years is the perfect age for a tawny, as it has greater age and complexity than a 10 year old, but without the prohibitive price tag of an older wine. To give an idea, I've had a look at prices for Taylors (probably the priciest of the port houses).

10 years old: £18 from Majestic
20 years old: £32.30 from Waitrose but £40 from House of Fraser (crikey!)
30 years old: £53.95 from the Whisky Exchange but £76 from House of Fraser (wtf!)
40 years old: £83 from the Whisky Exchange but £90 from Waitrose and £100 from guess who.

Clearly it pays to do your homework beforehand.

Other port houses make a 20 year old tawny retailing for less - Oddbins have Churchills for £25, Berry Bros have William Pickering (made by Quinta do Noval) for £24 and the Wine Society have Calem Colheita 1990 for £22 which I'm quite tempted to try. Something to think about as Christmas approaches.

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