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Holiday libations: Part 2

During this period we are finding that folks, in addition to being thrifty, are also buying a few more expensive wines in shops that in the past would be asked for during special restaurant night out treats. I try to cover them all.

This is the time of the year when you will usually find an opened bottle of late bottled vintage port on our kitchen island. Presently it is 2014 Taylor Fladgate LBV. It will be fine for the month as most ports will last well for up to six weeks once opened. Pop them in the fridge if you want extra insurance.

LBV was developed in 1970 as a high quality but more affordable and immediately drinkable alternative to vintage port, to be enjoyed by the glass on everyday occasions. Although many other houses now offer this wonderful style of wine, Taylor’s LBV – the original late bottled vintage – remains the benchmark in the category; the first choice of the knowledgeable port drinker.

The great vintage ports are placed in bottles to age after about eighteen months in barrel, whereas LBV spends four to six years in wood and ages more quickly. It is ready to enjoy upon release.

Wine Enthusiast rates Taylor Fladgate LBV 90/100 and says: “The latest incarnation of this most famous of late bottled vintage ports has so many of the brand's characteristics. It is on the dry side, a balanced wine with acidity as well as the sweet black fruits and with some tannins to give the wine shape.” This firm was founded in 1692. $32.30 (Stock #3174).

It would be good to have some basic ruby port on hand to use in the turkey gravy recipe. Or, if like us, you are planning for dinner for two and having roast duck then this sweet wine will enhance the sauce. Plus, you can drink it! Taylor’s Fine Ruby is a blend of full-bodied port wines aged for around two years in large oak vats in Taylor’s cellars, or ‘lodges’, in Vila Nova de Gaia. As they age, they gain smoothness and elegance while retaining their fruitiness, intensity and youthful ruby colour. They are then blended together for balance and consistency.

With its firm tannins and concentrated fruitiness, Fine Ruby is perfect for the classic port and cheese combination. It is particularly good with blue-veined and richly flavoured soft cheeses. It also pairs well with berry fruit and dark chocolate flavours and, like all red ports, makes an excellent after dinner drink. $24.30 (Stock #3182).

Fine tawny port is a divine treat and may I suggest that the very best value out of a 10-, 20-, 30- or 40-year-old is the 20. Graham’s 20 year Old Tawny has spent twenty long years in barrel and can now offer you almonds and delicious mature fruit with hints of orange peel.

Decanter says: “Tawny port is always exciting but if you can afford to splash out, go for a 20-year-old. Graham’s is 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. Wonderful stuff. 96/100.” $74.80 (Stock #3037).

If you are in a position to enjoy what some call the greatest wine in the world, then there is no better time than Christmas and New Year to fulfil the following advice: “No one should walk the face of this Earth and leave without first tasting a great vintage port.” Let me suggest 2000 Graham’s Vintage Port and tell you that for almost 200 years W & J Graham’s has been an independent family business renowned for producing the finest port wines.

If you chose to try the first vintage of the new century, and a great vintage in its own right, then this is what Wine Spectator had to say about the Graham’s: “Smells like freshly picked orchids with loads of ripe, clean fruit. Full-bodied, medium sweet and very powerful and racy. This is the greatest glass of Graham’s I have ever tasted, young or old. 98/100.”

James Suckling, who also scored it a fabulous 98 points, found dried fruits, raisins, Christmas cake, chocolate, liquorice and wet earth. He mentions full body, gorgeous depth, intensity of fruit and an amazing finish that will go on for decades. $125.10 (Stock #3042).

You should purchase it at least a week before you intend to open it. Stand it upright to let the sediment settle and then gently decant it. If it were me, I would serve with English biscuits and Stilton. May I once again say that if you have any of those tiny port glasses, please put them in the blue recycle bag. Use a fine “chardonnay glass”.

If money is of no concern, if you want to taste sheer perfection, if you want to share with only a few people worldwide, then you could purchase a bottle of Taylor Fladgate Scion 1855 Tawny Port. The beautiful, furniture-grade wooden box that encloses the handblown crystal decanter are both supplied “free of charge” with the port.

Robert Parker finds perfection that he rates 100/100 and, as there is not room to full describe it here, let me say that Parker ends with “simply stunning”.

We also have Taylor Fladgate 1863 Single Harvest if you prefer something younger. These breathtaking wines are available for $3,795 each. Drinking it could be compared with watching Michelangelo paint or Beethoven conduct.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

For almost 200 years W & J Graham’s has been an independent family business renowned for producing the finest port wines

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Published December 11, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 09, 2020 at 4:26 pm)

Holiday libations: Part 2

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