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Old Tawny Port

January 5, 2013
Question by: Robert, New Jersey, USA

Q:

I have a bottle of 1937 Souza Tawny Port.  I am curious as to its value and any special cosideration I should give to openining it and storing it.  As an example: do I have to drink it in one seating or could I store it in a decanter?

A:

Hi Robert, If your Tawny Port has the year 1937 featured on the label, it is probably a Colheita - meaning, the wine was made in the harvest year of 1937 and then aged in wooden cask for some years before bottling; the label should also state the year of bottling.  1937 was not declared as a Vintage year, but conditions were not bad, and it is likely some sound wines were made.  Typically, Tawnies and Colheitas are intended to be enjoyed within a few years of bottling and release, but if it has been kept in proper cellar conditions, it could still be enjoyable, regardless of age - you won't know till you try, honestly.  You can learn more about this type of Port in our Guide to Port Styles.

Tawny Ports do not need to be decanted, and generally speaking can be kept for a few weeks if securely sealed again with either a cork or Vacu-vin type seal and kept in a cool place, such as a cellar or refrigerator, though very old wines can be more fragile and should be consumed earlier.  It would be worth inviting friends and family around to enjoy the bottle when first opened.

As far as market value, as a general rule only Vintage Ports from top producers are sought in the secondary market, not Tawnies or Colheitas, and you would have to satisfy any broker or potential buyer that the bottles have been well stored and likely to be in good condition.  You may want to consult a local fine wine specialist or auctioneer.



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