Monday, December 8, 2008
Holiday Gift Guide- Sandeman's 10 year Tawny Port
I adore port in almost all of its forms. While I collect vintage ports ('63 Cockburns anyone?), I rarely open them, saving them for special occasions. Instead, when I want a quality port for my more everyday port drinking, I tend to reach for a good tawny port. I like tawny ports because they have a nice nuttiness to them that lends itself perfectly to fruits and cheeses, something I like to end a meal with rather than dessert. Tawny port differs from vintage port in that it spends at least 7 years in wood versus being bottled after 18 months (in stainless steel to preserve the ruby color) for vintage ports. Tawnies are blends, the age statement being the youngest age of the wines included in the blend. The official age designations are 10, 20, 30 and 40 years, of which Sandeman makes all 4 age designations. In fact, Sandeman is offering up a "Century" of their tawny ports in a custom wooden case featuring a bottle each of the 10, 20, 30 and 40 year for approximately $350. Unfortunately, I've only had a chance to taste and review the 10 year tawny, so I cannot speak to the quality of the other ports, but if past history is any indication of the quality of the other bottles, whoever receives a century of Sandeman's tawnies will be getting a very special Christmas gift this year. And just to reduce any confusion, its called a century because all of the vintages added together make 100.
I've been suffering from a pretty nasty cold recently, enough to have me in that warm, fuzzy NyQuil induced state that must be the closest thing to opium thats available over the counter. This weekend I decided that a tawny port toddy would be the perfect thing to help break my cold. Not too alcoholic, warm, and with a nice wintery flavor profile, Sandeman's 10 works incredibly well in a toddy (even if it is a bit over the top).
Last night, my taste buds and nose started to come back so I decided to try the Sandeman's 10 year tawny on its own. Its definitely got a great nose, I picked up a lot of walnut and just a bit of raisin. I like my tawny ports at room temperature, a little warmer than is usually recommended (just my personal preference) as I think that ports served slightly chilled take some time to open up. On the palate, there was the usual pronounced nutiness imparted by so much time in barrel, but also a soft apricot note and a creamy mouthfeel. Whats nice is that the sweetness of the port is balanced by a nice acidity, making this perhaps the best tawny port that I've tasted at this age. Further on the palate, soft caramel notes and very mild tobacco tones intermingle with a light raisin finish. This is a very generous wine to the palate and a well made one at that. Words like luscious, delicious, extravagant, and inviting run through my head when I think of this tawny port. I'd love to pair this with some foie gras to really watch it sing. As it is though, I'm a little too poor for foie gras at the moment, so instead I'll be matching this with some dried apricots and some nuts after dinner tonight.
I highly recommend that you drink any bottle of tawny port sooner rather than later after you open it. At most, consume within a month, but I really suggest within a week if you can.
Sandeman's Tawny Port is available now with an average price around $40.