93

2003 Quinta do Noval, Vintage Port, Douro Valley

( £68, 19.5%, Ocado )

It’s always hot in the Douro, but it was really, really hot in 2003 and I think it shows in the wines. This is a big, if slightly pruney style with more than a hint of Douro bake. Packed with black fruits and liquorice and pretty serious tannins, it needs more time in bottle to sweeten up and shed some of the sturdy backbone. 

Drinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £50-£100, 91-95, Portugal, Fortified, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
96

1997 Quinta do Noval Colheita Port, Douro Valley

( £39, 21.5%, Fine Wines Direct, Ocado, SH Jones )

If you’re a fan of vintage dated Tawnies (aka Colheita Ports), they don’t come much better than this. It’s endearlingly, palate-stimulatingly spicy, with real intensity and focus, an impression of heat and figgy intensity, a faint undertone of spirit and a finish that lingers on the palate for minutes. The wine is drier than many examples, with the structure that is the hallmark of Noval’s wood-aged Ports.

Drinking window: 2013-25Similar Wines: £10-£20, 96-100, Portugal, Fortified, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
93

Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley

( £18.99, 21.5%, Fortnum & Mason, Ocado, Tanners, Waitrose )

The received wisdom (at least round my gaff) is that 20-year-old Tawnies are better than the 10-year-old versions, but this wine challenges that. It will improve further in bottle, but it’s remarkable now, an intense, nutty, figgy fortified  with more tannin and concentration than commerical Tawnies at lower price points. In short, it’s worth the extra cash: a sweet, yet structured, wood-matured Port with impressive palate length.

Drinking window: 2013-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Portugal, Fortified, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
90

2011 Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia

( £11.99, 14%, Ocado, Slurp, Tesco, The Co-operative )

Grenache should be all about sun-kissed drinkability, which is exactly what you get in the bottle here. It’s quite pale in colour (as Grenache can be), with notes of Asian spices, red fruits and deftly handled oak. Savoury, peppery and deceptively forward, this is a wine that develops with time in the glass.

Drinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, Red, Grenache