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.
This may “only” be a single quinta wine, supposedly from a non-vintage year for Port, but it’s still delicious. It’s great to drink right now, with lots of spice and heat, succulent red and black fruits, some fig and dark plums and a thrust of spirit. Just the thing to drink with blue cheese.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth but don’t want to spend more than £10 on a bottle of something special for Christmas, this southern Rhône fortified ticks all the right boxes. It’s a very elegant style, wtih subtle fortification, aromas of wild flowers, honey and peach and a refreshing finish that doesn’t cloy in the slightest.
Bottled in 2008 (which means it spent more than 30 years in cask), this is the sort of wine that everyone should drink once in their life. It has the classic green tinge of mature Madeira, as well as the marked acidity of the best examples. Savoury, complex and fine, this has a classic cheesy undertone, with mature, smoky, incense-like aromas and flavours. Yes, it’s expensive, but at 25% off, now is the time to buy it. Or offer it as a Christmas present.
LBV Port covers a variety of styles and levels of seriousness, but this is right up there with the very best examples. It was bottled in 2005 and matured for a further four years before release and the result is a wine of great balance and spicy concentration. Smoky, peppery and fine with no obvious rough edges of spirit, just finesse, depth and complexity.
A bottle of my favourite Manzanilla for less than a tenner? Sign me up. This aged style from coastal Sanlúcar de Barrameda is an Andalucian classic. Rich and savoury, with yeasty, baking dough aromas, intense, salty, tangy flavours and a finish that goes on for so long it could outsell Viagra. An incredible wine at a bargain price.
Wow! When Aussie stickies are as good as this, they are some of the greatest fortified wines in the world. This ambre-hued, mature, non vintage Muscat is a stunner, all dates and rose petal, with a hint of Oloroso Sherry. Treacle, molasses, unctuous sweetness and a finish that goes on for ever.
Rare sums it up. It’s not often that I’m reduced to silent contemplation, but that happened here. This is a tresure of a wine, one to be sipped and supped and drooled over. Incredibly perfumed, rose petal and rancio aromas sashay intocomplex, nut fig and walnut flavours on the palate. Decadent, complex, concentrated and intense. Essence of Rutherglen.
Sweet, floral, rosepetal notes on the nose, followed by youthful, high toned, fig and molasses on the palate. This is quite a young style of Muscat (relatively speaking, of course), but it’s delightfully poised and fragrant with a luscious, sweet, mouth-coating texture and good length.
The almacenista (merchant) house of Emilio Lustau sources and blends some of the best Sherries in the world. This perennial award winner from Sainsbury’s is a classic Amontillado style: pale(ish), dry and very complex with flavours of hazelnuts, dried fruits and a savoury, umami-like tang. The wine needs food, preferably tapas or a hunk of Manchego cheese, to show at its best, but is a comtemplative, after dinner drink too.