|1.W. & J. Graham’s||2.Fonseca||3. Cálem|
Best tawny port wine is one of the most popular fortified wines in the world. Produced in Portugal’s Douro Valley since the 17th century, this wine is so named for its rich amber color which is a result of careful oxidization during maturation.
The fortified part of its name comes from the fact that during fermentation grape spirit is added to strengthen it, making a sweet, intense, and alcoholic wine. Tawny port tends to be on the sweet side boasting fruity flavors of apricot, plum, and raisin plus caramel, chocolate, and walnut. It has a high ABV (typically 16 % to 21%) and is typically drunk as an aperitif to prepare the palate or after dinner with cheese or chocolate. Some rich, chocolatey styles are often substituted for dessert.
Grapes used in tawny port include Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinto Cão. This fortified wine undergoes light or extreme aging depending on the style of port.
Table of Contents
Best Tawny Port Wines 2021
One of the port world’s most iconic companies, W & J Graham’s has been making fine ports since 1820.
Its 10-Year-Old Tawny Port displays the years of skill and tradition that have developed at Graham’s over the centuries. This fortified wine emerges from a decade of aging in seasoned oak with complex nutty notes and mature fruit flavors.
To the eye, Graham’s 10-Year-Old is a gleaming deep tawny copper hue. On the nose, it shows hints of fig and honey while the palate is rich with luscious mellow fruit. The finish is long and lingering.
This tawny port is the perfect partner for a range of desserts, especially ones that are creamy and fruity. Put it on your menu for after dinner and enjoy a glass with apple pie or almond cake.
It shines at its best when you serve it chilled and – bonus points for this tawny port – it will stay fresh for four to six weeks after opening.
Since 1840, Fonseca has been making legendary ports from its Douro Valley quinta or estate garnering plenty of prizes and accolades along the way.
Its 20-Year-Old Tawny Port goes through maturation in oak becoming progressively less ruby red and more amber with mellow, rich flavors.
The nose of Fonseca 20-Year-Old Tawny is delightfully complex with seductive toffee, chocolate, and butterscotch. On the mouth, ripe, mature, plummy fruit leads lined with spicy cinnamon, caramel, and gentle hints of oak. A thick seam of mocha adds the finishing touches, and a long, dry, spicy finish rounds it all off majestically.
This Fonseca port has the brawn to stand up to any main course featuring beef and matches beautifully with a platter of mature and hard cheeses. Its chocolatey, caramel notes also make it an ideal pairing with ice cream covered in butterscotch sauce or a slice of rich chocolate tart.
Established in 1859, this Douro quinta produces a delectable range of white, ruby, and tawny ports. Famed for being an adventurous producer, Cálem Porto was among the first to export all the way to Brazil when its contemporaries were still shipping along the beaten paths of nearby Europe.
Its adventurous spirit can be seen in this 30-year-old Tawny Port. Featuring the standard grapes that are used in port production, it also features Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec for extra fruit, body, and finesse.
On the nose, there is a marvelous medley of confectionaries like chocolate, caramel, and vanilla along what plenty of sweet herbs, banana, and even a light lift of varnish. The palate opens with honey and raisin then broadens into woody notes followed by dried fruit, coffee, and molasses. A gentle spine of acidity complements the sweet, deep notes offering a glorious glass of port.
Its sweet profile makes this a good one to pair with spicy Asian cuisine, while it also goes down a treat with a cheese platter. If you have a sweet tooth, indulge in a glass with scrumptious dark chocolate.
This Quinta is another oldy and goody. It opened its doors in 1750 with offices in London and the Douro Valley and has been making an exciting range of top ports since then.
Pricey, but worth every cent, this 40-year-old tawny port has a nose of nutmeg and cloves with a divine blend of fresh and dried fruit.
It displays a patisserie store of vanilla, caramel, chocolate, almond, and coffee all deliciously threaded with orange peel, black fruit jam, brown sugar, and licorice. A toasty, black pepper finish ends this exquisite tawny port on a pristine note.
This is a fortified wine for a cheese platter or intense chocolate desserts or fruity, spicy sweets.
Tawny ports wines make a great and sometimes quirky alternative to regular still wines for mains and desserts. They area also excellent aperitifs and ideal for sipping alone on a cold evening. Enjoy exploring this fascinating world of rich, deep wines.
Kinds of Tawny Port
There are four categories of aging for tawny port: 10, 20, 30, and 40 years. It is important to note though that these figures represent the average age of the various vintages used in a tawny port blend and not the number of years the wine has been aged in total. This is why you sometimes see N.V. on the label meaning non-vintage.
Production and classification of tawny port wine are strictly monitored by the Port and Douro Wines Institute. As they age, tawny ports lose their fruity notes and develop complex, nutty, chocolate, and leathery flavors in a rich, silky mouthfeel.
Prices rise as the number of aging years do, but many port lovers say that a 20-year-old tawny port offers the best value for money. That may be so, but we cannot resist looking at the best tawny port wine in each aging category. After all, this fortified wine is such a treat whatever its age.