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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.