Taylor’s isn’t as well known for its Tawnies as some houses are – its LBVs and Vintage Ports are up there with the very best – but it should be, based on the quality of this 20-year-old release. Figgy, sweet and complex, with beautifully integrated spirit and notes of umami and orange zest. One of those Ports that you don’t want to pass to your neighbour.
Mid-way between a single quinta and not-quite-a-vintage Port, this is rich, sweet and easy to drink, but with more structure and concentration than is immediately apparent. Spicy, peppery and showing a little bit of fiery spirit, this has dark, creamy fruit flavours and a complex, chocolatey finish.
A rich, even heady expression of the Moscatel (Muscat) grape, this is luscious and palate-coating, with flavours of orange peel, dried fruits and beeswax and spirity note that complements rather than overwhelms the wine. Sweet and complex, it’s really good with full-flavoured desserts.
At only £15.95 a half bottle, this has to be one of the best value fortifieds on the market at the moment. It’s a mature, salty, rancio-style wine made from Grenache Blanc and Macabeu that’s mid way between a Sherry and a Tawny Port in style. Try it poured over vanilla ice cream or with a walnut tart.
Made for M&S by Taylor’s brilliant winemaker, David Guimaraens, this is the kind of Tawny Port that makes grown men (and women) cry. It’s a very fine fortified, with a delicious balance between nutty, figgy fruit, added spirit and mature, barrel-aged rancio notes. Very sweet and very long on the palate, it would make a perfect Christmas treat.
Great Sherry remains one of the wine world’s great bargains, even in half bottles like this one from the high quality Emilion Lustau operation. This is a classic Palo – with slightly more weight than an Amontillado, but similalry nutty, savoury flavours. Bone dry on the palate, with lovely, old barrel-aged notes of toast and grilled almonds and a salty note from five years spent in a Fino solera system. Great as an aperitif, but also amazing with tapas.
Youthful, fortified Muscat showing a hint of spirit and floral, grapey fruit flavours. An easy-drinking, dessert style that would work well as an aperitif.
Traditional, oxidative, tawny Port meets Oloroso Sherry style with marked sweetness and developed, rancio notes. Nutty, figgy fruit flavours with some crème caramel notes and aged complexity.
Grapey, sweet, fortified Muscat with a slight alcoholic burn, this has notes of citrus and spice and marked acidity on the finish.
If you love Fino Sherry – and who doesn’t? – this is about as good as it gets: an unfined, unfiltered fortified that was bottled in April when the flor yeast is at its thickest on the surface of the wine, giving it that bready, savoury complexity. More deeply coloured than the regular Tio Pepe, this is a salty, tangy delight that’s absolutely brilliant with a plate of anchovies or almonds. Essence of Andalusia.
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.
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.