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Old Bottle of Reserve Port

November 8, 2012
Question by: Don, Mobile

Q:

I have a bottle of Tawny Port that I recieved from my grandfather when he passed away back in 2005.  I have a bottle of Hoopers reserve [V N De Gaia Oporto], it's in a basket weave bottle with a seal which is unbroken, and has 'Vila Nova de Gaia' on the label.

A:

Hi Don, Hoopers is one of a half dozen brand names used over the past 50 years or more by Real Companhia Velha (as the firm is now known within Portugal). It's not clear to me if you are talking about one bottle or two different bottles.  Tawny Port is a blend of ports from several different years, which have been aged in small casks (550 litre), then blended and bottled ready to drink.  The small cask ageing gives the Port its tawny colour and generally mature flavours of dried fruit, with perhaps caramel, nutty, toasty or spicy notes, depending on the house style of the producer and the age of the tawny.  If there is no indication of age on the label, e.g. 10, 20, 30 or 40 Year Old, then it is a younger tawny, bottled either around 3 years of age, or, if the label says "Reserve Tawny" between 4 to 7 years of age.

If you have a bottle which says just "Reserve" (not Tawny) then it is a Ruby Port, a blend of ports from several different years which has been aged in large casks of tens of thousands of litres capacity, in order to preserve its deep red colour and younger, fresh-fruit driven flavour profile.  As a Reserve, the blend would again have an average age between 4 to 7 years.

Either a Tawny or a Ruby of these styles would have been bottled ready for enjoyment.  If the bottle(s) have been stored in a cool dark place, they may still be in good condition and a pleasure to drink.  Do plan on trying them soon - these wines were not meant for extended ageing in bottle.  If you are interested in learning more about non-Vintage styles of Port, take a look at our Guide to Port Styles, which has some additional information about storing and serving these Ports.  



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