Our Picks: Port & Sweet wines for every taste
Now is a great time to sample some of the best wines in the Port and sweet categories. From a classic Vin Santo and luscious botrytis Riesling, to a brooding Late Bottled Vintage Port and decadent Aged Tawnies, there is something to suit every taste.
Many are the perfect match for traditional seasonal foods – blue cheese, dark chocolate, dried fruits and nuts, rich pâtés and the like – while others pair just as well with a fireside armchair and a good book. Try serving Tawny Ports chilled, between 12 and 16°C, in proper wine glasses to enjoy them at their sublimely complex best...
Blank Canvas, ‘Meta’ Late Harvest Riesling 2018
Marlborough, New Zealand
A lusciously sweet Riesling made with grapes affected by Noble Rot, this has a hedonistic blend of orange blossom, marmalade and a bright citrussy finish. It comes from a single vineyard in the Rapaura sub-region of the Wairau Valley, brilliantly situated to deliver perfect noble rot conditions. The grapes were selectively hand-harvested in the vineyard and wholebunch pressed, with the juice returned to the skins for an overnight maceration to soak up further flavour, sugars and acidity. The wine was then aged in French oak puncheons for six months on light lees..
Capezzana, Vin Santo di Carmignano 2012
Vinified according to an ancient technique, Vin Santo is made from Trebbiano and San Colombano grapes that are dried for three months. The dried grape must is then fermented in small barrels called ‘Caratelli’ where natural yeasts will start and stop fermentations with the natural changes of the temperature. The wine stays in these barrels for up to five years, resulting in a unique sweet wine with flavours of dried fruit, candied apricot and orange peel, as well as floral nuances of yellow flowers.
Donnafugata, `Ben Ryé` Passito di Pantelleria 2018
This world class Passito comes from the tiny volcanic island of Pantelleria, southwest of Sicily. The Zibibbo (the Sicilian name for Muscat d’Alexandria) grows on bush vines called “albero pantelleresco”, where the grapes are kept shaded from the scorching summer sunshine and protected from the winds that sweep across the island constantly. The wine is fermented partly from fresh grapes, with dried grapes added in different stages of the fermentation; the dried grapes have such a high sugar content that this is necessary to avoid the interruption of the fermentation. ‘Ben Ryé’ is luscious and rich with flavours of apricots and candied orange peel. A perfect balance of sweetness to acidity makes it extremely enjoyable and one to savour.
Allegrini, ‘Giovanni Allegrini’ Recioto Classico 2015
This Recioto is dedicated to Giovanni Allegrini, the founder of the Allegrini estate, who named it as his favourite wine. It represents the skills of Allegrini winemaking, where balance, finesse and elegance are key. The Corvina grapes are dried for four to five months before vinification, losing 50% of their original weight. Busting with cherry aromas and floral notes, the sweetness is balanced by acidity and gentle tannins, giving a wine of exceptional finesse.
Sandeman, Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015
A blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca were ripened to perfection on the hallowed slopes of the Douro Valley and trodden in granite lagares to extract the optimum levels of flavour, colour and tannin before fortification. The Sandeman LBV then spent four years ageing in barrels in the Sandeman cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. Bottled without filtration to retain maximum intensity of flavour, this is an elegant and complex LBV boasting a brooding black fruit intensity coupled with a delicious spiciness. This Port pairs wonderfully with cheeses and rich, chocolatey desserts.
Sandeman, 10-Year-Old Tawny Port NV
Sandeman has over 150 years of experience in the art of blending Aged Tawnies and this expertise is reflected in the fact that their range is the most highly awarded of any Port house and has been garlanded with over 70 medals at international wine competitions in the last six years. The 10-Year-Old Tawny is a carefully-crafted blend of wines which have spent between 9 to 12 years ageing in the Sandeman cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia. It has a lovely freshness which balances the complex flavours of rich and mellow fruit, raisins, honey and roasted nuts.
Sandeman, 20-Year-Old Tawny Port NV
A masterpiece of Aged Tawny winemaking which blends carefully selected wines of between 15 to 40 years of age. The Sandeman 20-Year-Old Tawny is a hugely elegant and complex Port with pronounced aromas of dried fruits, roasted nuts, caramel and vanilla which endure and evolve on the long and harmonious finish. Best served slightly chilled in a large wine glass, the Aged Tawnies are wonderful when paired with cheese or chocolate and are also delightful when savoured on their own.
Sandeman, Vau Vintage Port 1999
Sandeman’s ‘Quinta do Vau’ estate sits on the south bank of the Douro river midway between the villages of Pinhão and Tua. The Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional that make up the sumptuous Vau Vintage blend are planted on prime schist terraces sloping down to the river. A modern take on a Vintage Port, with more complexity than an LBV but more fruit and softer structure than a classic Vintage, the Sandeman Vau Vintage is bursting with aromas of ripe and juicy strawberries, raspberries and plums coupled with complex tertiary notes of raisins, dried figs and dates.