8 best ports | The Independent

Chilly climate and cosy evenings name for a nightcap. With its warming fruitiness and satisfying thickness, port is an apparent alternative for these winter months.

But when your expertise of the fortified wine consists of dusting off that bottle from the cabinet every year when the festive cheese board arrives, you’re lacking out. Produced solely within the Douro Valley within the northern provinces of Portugal, and providing an array of flavours from molasses to bitter chocolate, perhaps it’s time to correctly uncover it. 

So what makes a superb port? The very first thing to know is there are a variety of various types to contemplate, from ruby to white. Whereas tawny port for instance has a nutty high quality because of a technique of ageing in picket barrels, white port produced from white grapes is usually blended in cocktails.

General, we’re searching for sweetness that’s not overpowering, permitting among the beautiful, wealthy berry of the fruit flavours to return by means of. And within the longer-aged ports on our checklist we’re looking for character – these deeper notes of fig, nuts, and butterscotch. 

Although generally loved post-meal, there’s no motive you may’t begin having fun with it as an extended drink too. At round half the energy of the likes of gin and vodka, port is changing into a drink of alternative for these searching for one thing a bit lighter. Port and tonic anybody? Right here’s our information to the perfect, to take you from Christmas and past.

Fonseca Crusted Port, 2006, 20%: £23.95 for 75cl, Amazon 

Crusted – what now? This uncommon model of port is simply made by a small variety of producers and is characterised by its lack of filtration, therefore the title. The wine will type a “crust” within the bottle, so decant it earlier than consuming.

Made with a mix of wines from two or three vintages, this well-rounded model balances the perfect traits of quite a few harvests. And Fonseca’s is not any exception. There are slight strawberries and cream on the nostril, and on the primary sip too.

With no warmth right here in any respect, there’s only a beautiful, delicate sweetness that then provides approach to extra winey notes. However actually, it’s all about that stunning creaminess. Pair with dessert – a crème brûlée could be our final match. 

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Ramos Pinto RP20 20 12 months Outdated Tawny Port, 20.5%: £52.38 for 75cl, Amazon 

This tawny port is produced from a choice of a number of plots from one of many oldest vineyards within the Douro area. The results of that lengthy ageing course of is a fantastically deep, wealthy rusty brown liquid that bursts with fig, toasted nut and quince aromas. Velvety smooth and easy to sip, there’s zero aggression to this mellow little quantity – just a bit light warmth from the alcohol.

We love the slight sourness, roasted notes, and a caramel sweetness that every one fade to a stunning, savoury notice. An oily cheese is an apparent match, however we’re additionally a fan of sipping this barely chilled, alongside a mince pie (if this season requires one). 

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Graham’s Positive White Port Wine, 19%: £12.45 for 75cl, Amazon

Now, if you happen to actually need to get into the P&Ts, then that is the port to do it with. One other longstanding model, Graham’s has been within the port enterprise since 1820. Because it’s a white port, you’re going to search out this a bit extra vibrant and rowdy than the longer-aged reds.

Contemporary, salty and with a bit grapefruit and creaminess to the end, there’s rather a lot happening right here, but it surely all works. Serve it chilled with tonic and you actually can’t go unsuitable. 

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Warre’s Otima 10-12 months Outdated Tawny, 20%: £15.49 for 50cl, The Drink Store

Properly now, that is one fruity character. From the oldest British Port Home, based in Portugal in 1670, comes this vibrant, ruby-coloured tawny. This port has made our checklist for its standout flavour.

The primary sip provides you with fairly an intense hit of orange-peel, adopted by a bit burnt sugar, then successful of berries, ending with some savoury, pastry-like, bready notes. Accessible each flavour and price-wise, this is a superb first enterprise into the deeper flavours of port for these starting to discover it.

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Kopke 30 Years Outdated White, 20%: £74.99 for 37.5cl, Amazon 

You will have encountered ports by Kopke earlier than, as its stylishly minimal and modern-looking bottles simply have a tendency to face out. It might shock you then that it really claims to be the oldest model of port wine, based in 1638, with all bottles nonetheless handpainted. Kopke produces quite a few types and age statements, but it surely’s the white ports and tawny that basically have us salivating.

Although we need to give a particular point out to the elegant nuttiness of the 20-year-old tawny, we’ve a selected smooth spot for this 30-year-old white. Be warned, this doesn’t come low-cost, very justifiably. However we are able to’t get sufficient of its scrumptious nutty, caramelised apple notes with only a trace of citrus. 

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Taylor’s Late Bottled Classic 2012, 20%: £10 for 75cl, Amazon

You definitely get rather a lot to your cash with this one. The just about purple hue of the satisfyingly thick liquid is your first clue as to the depth of flavour contained inside.

Virtually Vimto-like in fruitiness – and imagine us, that’s a superb factor – there’s plum, blackberry and cherry upfront. Nevertheless, there aren’t actually any savoury notes to this one, and little wooden character, which is both a plus or a damaging relying in your tastes. For what it’s price, we adore it. 

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Krohn Colheita 2004, 20%: £24.01 for 75cl, Uvinum

Based in 1865 by two Norwegians, Wiese & Krohn is thought particularly for its colheitas. The model, which has some similarities to a tawny, is aged in wooden for at least seven years earlier than being bottled. This explicit port was bottled in 2015. Deep pink in color it feels a bit thinner in texture than some others on our checklist.

Overwhelmingly fruit-forward, it is a vibrant and fruity wine, with some scrumptious nutty notes. Pair it with one thing salty. Additionally as a result of this one comes bottled with a cork stopper, open while you’ve bought a crowd available to savour it with you. Candy, accessible and, we’ve to say, glorious worth.

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Waitrose Late-Bottled Classic Port, Symington Household Estates, 20%: £10.99 for 75cl, Waitrose Cellar 

Waitrose has teamed up with Symington, proprietor of each Warre’s and Graham’s, to provide this LBV port. One of the crucial wine-like of the ports on our checklist, there’s much less sweetness, however lots of berry fruits right here, that means if you happen to’re not overly sweet-toothed, this can be the one for you. Mellow, chewy and with a touch of acidity, that is one to find time for. Seize a superb ebook, settle into that armchair and sip away.

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The Verdict: Greatest ports

We simply can’t get sufficient of the Fonseca Crusted Port, with its scrumptious mixture of berry fruit flavours, and a distinctly creamy end. Scrumptious and unimaginable worth.

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