Among the sweet wines in the world, port is one of the most revered. Made in the remote, rugged Douro river valley of Portugal, the wines are dense, rich, and extremely long-lived.
This tasting was a non-blind comparison of a few different styles of port, such as basic ruby, tawny, and vintage. Vintage ports are made only in the best years (perhaps only a few times a decade), and are the most intense, as well as expensive.
The tasting covered four styles of the fortified wine, from light and summery to rich and concentrated. Although all four bottles hovered around 20% alcohol, we did a pretty good job of consuming most of them. Luckily, we consumed proportionate amounts of water. Everyone asked some excellent questions about ports . . . I was proud.
Kristin uniformly disliked these wines.
No points, no scoring. They are listed in the order served.
Borges white port (NV). Tasted over ice, with and without tonic water. Aromas and flavors of green apple, vanilla, and honey, with almonds on the finish. Silky in texture. The addition of tonic brought out grapefruit/lime flavors. Kristin preferred this with a heavy dose of tonic water, while David enjoyed it alone. Ali declared that she hates it with tonic. Andy and David enjoyed it enough to go back to it, and would want it again in the summer. About $10.
Fonseca 10 year old tawny port. Nose of black licorice, burnt caramel. Kristin noted that it smelled like nail polish remover, while Ali described "overripe blackberries in the sun". Thick, and tasting of maple syrup, tobacco, prunes, roasted nuts, and golden raisins. Kurt felt the finish was acidic, while Andy noticed pepper. David felt this wine offered a great deal of flavor for the price. About $30.
Grahams "6 Grapes" ruby port (NV). More wine-like on the nose. Notes of black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, cassis, and orange rind. Kristin liked the aroma, but disliked the taste. Kurt felt it was smoother than the tawny, while David felt the finish was too alcoholic. About $18.
Taylor Fladgate 1994 vintage port. From the best vintage year of the 90's, and arguably the finest vintage port producer. Tasters described cola, blackberries, dark earth, flowers, chocolate, tobacco and leather. Contained a spicy cinnamon or nutmeg quality. Youthful acidity and tannins, but with plenty of concentration and fruit to back it up. David praised it for its elegance. Interestingly, the Wine Spectator gave this a perfect 100 score, with the Wine Advocate not far behind at 97 points. Tasted from a half bottle . . . a full bottle would have been nearly $200.