Give 100 years to a friend
Wouldn’t it be fabulous to give an important friend or associate one hundred years in a single gift?
All you must do is purchase a bottle of 10, 20, 30 and 40-year-old Graham’s tawny port.
Let me see if I can persuade you to do so by supplying a few details on this lovely wine that is permitted to be bottled with the four mentioned age designations that add up to 100.
Vintage port spends up to two years in barrel and then sits in the bottle for close to eternity before it is ready to drink.
The year designation on tawny refers to the average time that a blend of various years spends in barrel and it is this long time in wood that causes it to take on a lighter (than vintage) tawny colour.
It also becomes very intense as up to three per cent can evaporate each year.
I am told that fine tawnies are the fastest-growing category in our large neighbour to the west and there certainly are folks that prefer them to a vintage bottle.
A slight chill, say half an hour in the fridge, brings out the flavour and complexity. There is a saying that vintage port is for the head and aged tawny is for the heart.
Three more things: tawny has no sediment (it stayed in the barrel) and so you can just pop the cork and pour. Tawny will not age further and is ready when you buy; in other words, if you buy a 10-year and keep it ten years you do not end up with a 20-year-old tawny.
Lastly, once opened, especially if kept in the refrigerator, it can last for quite a few weeks in fine condition.
Although we have others, I will just stick with Graham’s today and, with over two hundred years of experience, they are certainly in the top tier.
The winemaker at Graham’s says this about their 10-Year-Old Tawny Port : “Ten years indicates an average age. This aged tawny port is a blend of older wines, which offer complexity, and younger wines, that bring fresh fruit flavours and vibrancy.
“During their long maturing period in oak casks, aged tawnies undergo subtle colour changes: the deep-red hue which characterises port’s youth gradually gives way to a paler reddish-amber colour.
“Graham’s is known for its rich, elegant house style. This ten year has a full, nutty bouquet, the classic Graham’s richness and a soft lingering finish. Serve it in a glass with at least a six-ounce capacity so that you may appreciate the wine’s aromas.
“Graham’s 10 Year is delicious when paired with milk chocolate, creme brûlée or fruit tarts. In warmer months, try it chilled for a refreshing dessert in a glass.”
Wine Enthusiast magazine rates it 91/100 and writes:
“The wine is rich, ripe and fruity with good acidity as well as a bite of spirit and old-wood ageing. It is well balanced, keeping the freshness of a ten-year-old while also showing good signs of its wood ageing. Just what a ten-year-old should be.” $45.50.
For Graham’s 20-Year-Old Tawny I will again quote their winemaker. Please note how he backs up my advice of last week to get rid of tiny “port glasses”.
“Amber, golden tawny colour. An excellent bouquet, with a characteristic ‘nutty’ character, such as almonds, and delicious mature fruit with hints of orange peel. Rich, sweet and smooth on the palate, it is perfectly balanced, with a long and lingering finish. Graham’s 20-Year-Old Tawny Port pairs extremely well with vanilla ice cream or creme brûlée. Serve slightly chilled to appreciate the full complexity and sensuous pleasure of this wine.
Port is best served in classic port wine glassware or white wine glasses. Avoid cordial or liqueur glasses as they are too small to fully appreciate the wine’s aromas.”
This 20-year-old wine garners a superb 96/100 from Decanter magazine, that comments:
“Tawny port is always exciting, but if you can afford to splash out, go for a 20-year-old. All the major houses make wonderful aged tawnies and this is always one of the best.
“Ethereal and mellow on the palate, it boasts flavours of toffee and caramel, burnt orange and raisins, dried plums, hazelnuts and a savoury hint of mushroom on the finish. Wonderful stuff!” $74.80.
James Button, writing for Decanter, has this to say about Graham’s 30-Year-Old Tawny: “The intensity and luxuriousness of this port is a real treat.
“With an average age of 30 years, there has been plenty of time for the component wines to concentrate down and develop incredible complexity. Rich, syrupy and immediately nutty on the palate, sweet spices follow with a wave of cleansing acidity.
“Notes of dried orange peel, dried fruits, cinnamon and caramel flood the long finish. Very well balanced and surprisingly fresh.” $145.90.
We add the final 40 years with Graham’s 40-Year-Old Tawny Port that gets this from Wine Spectator: “A warm, lush style with brown bread, fig compote, ginger marmalade and date flavours coating the palate before streaks of bitter orange and almond kick in, imparting cut and enlivening the finish. A note of incense weaves around it all, adding intrigue.” $223.10.
So that is the story. Just imagine a dinner with twelve to eighteen participants where everyone has four glasses. A bottle of each is enough to allow them to taste through the years — known in the trade as a vertical tasting; a wonderful way to experience the effects of ageing.
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm</i>
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