(2019) Aged tawnies bear an age statement that indicates their style and approximate age, though normally they are blends of various vintages chosen to create a consistent quality and character - in this case that spans wines between seven and 14 years old. After its considerable time in barrel, this has a toffee colour with hint of ruby at the core and an inviting nose of walnut and rich Muscavado sugar, plump raisins and a typical lift of shellac. On the palate it has a lovely sweetness, soft and creamy, the spirit beautifully subsumed beneath the lightly leafy but coffee-ish notes, Agen prune and raisins, and a very nicely balanced finish. What a charming 10-Year-Old. 136g/l of residual sugar.
(2019) Vintage Ports are made only in the best years, and Vasques de Carvalho's 2016 is a selection of their best from that harvest, matured for 12 months in 6,000-litre wooden barrels. It is bottled unfiltered and should be decanted for serving. A very deep, opaque colour, the aromas are dense, meaty and darkly vinous, blueberry and damson fruit with just a tiny floral inflection coming through in this very young wine. It strikes the palate with glorious sweetness, a ripe, creamy richness of black fruit, super-sweet and mouth-filling, the quality of spirit evident in the quiet way it supports. There's great balance here, chocolate richness and fruit, but elegant in terms of its acid, tannin and long finish. A wine that can be broached now for its sweet and charming fruit and youthful vigour, but which will also age for decades.
(2019) This single quinta vintage wine is immediately darker and more dense in character than the 2013 LBV, with cassis and black cherry, a little more drying tannin, grippy, serious with lovely freshening acidity. Young.
(2019) Paler and more delicate colour, rather more raisin and dried fig aromas, smokiness and tobacco. Immediately more luxurious, a velvet texture and pure, sweet, the luscious plump fruit and nuttiness giving complexity and richness against the acidity. Fabulous.
(2018) Touriga Nacional (50%) and Touriga Franca (50%), from vines more than 25 years old. Quite similar to the Barros, but with a lighter, more ashy quality to the aromatics, sappy and fresh, a touch rose-hip in an understated but attractive nose. Super-sweet and super-ripe again, but decisive, slightly higher acid character to this that gives light and precision, backed up with some tannin structure, but the very sweet berry fruit is buoyant and juicy, in quite a different style from the richer Barros. 91g/l of Residual Sugar.
(2018) Touriga Nacional (50%), Old mixed vineyards over 50 years old (50%). Arguably the darkest, most saturated colour of the four Sogevinus 2016s tasted, chocolaty, dark and brooding on the nose, meat-stock and a dark berry fruit coming through. Darkly-fruited palate, a real sense of tannic grip here, drying the mouth with concentrated black fruit essence, but there is a little violetty note here too, suggesting it has more to give. Could well be the wine in this line-up to benefit most from ageing. 91g/l of residual sugar.
(2017) Noval is one of the greatest names in Port production, and I can also heartily recommend the 10-year-old version of this wine which is much cheaper at around £20 for a full bottle if you shop around, but this 20-year-old - the average age of the wines in the blend - is in such a sweet spot that it had to be my choice. It is mellow, nuttier and more figgy than the Kopke Colheita tasted alongside, deeper and more ruby-tinged, and the palate is just a raft of chocolate, sweet berries, tobacco and spice, the long elegant finish so beautifully balanced between the sweetness, a bittersweet marmalade acidity and seamless alcohol. Majestic stuff. Price for a full bottle and quite widely available - use the wine-searcher link.
(2017) A Port-method wine, but made from the aromatic Moscatel in the Douro by Rui Cunha. It's basically in the style of a 10-year-old tawny Port, the nose showing a touch of floral Muscat character, but more the mellow and walnutty notes of its long wood ageing, dried apricot, lemon and a touch of ginger spice. In the mouth the spirit gives heat, but there's some rich toast and marmalade character and that lovely sweetness lingers. A fine wine to match with blue cheeses, or to sip with some almonds perhaps. Price is for 50cl.
(2015) From one of the Douro Valley's great estates and a fine producer of the LBV style, where the wines are given long aging in barrel so they are approachable immediately on release. This is infused with chocolate and dark fudge-like aromas, but on top sit all sorts of lifted, kirsch and floral nuances, lovely ethereal glimpses of all sorts of exoticism. In the mouth it is sweet, solid and chocolate-rich, with excellent acidity and tannin balance for drinking now or cellaring. Around £20 - £24, Ocado, Oddbins and see all stockists on wine-searcher.com. Note that Berry Bros sell a similar 2009 LBV made for them by Noval at £16.99
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